Remarks at the GNRC Third Forum Opening Ceremony
by Rev. Nichiko Niwano, President of Rissho Kosei-kai
I would like to convey my heartfelt greetings at the opening ceremony of the Third Forum of the Global Network of Religions for Children (GNRC).
The GNRC, launched by the Arigatou Foundation of Myochikai, has grown to become the only global interreligious network that protects the wellbeing and the rights of children all around the globe, and it continues to convey a valuable message to the world. I would like to reiterate my deep respect for the GNRC's focus on children and its continued efforts to find a solid path to secure their dignity.
Children are the key to the future. Tagore, the Indian poet and thinker, said "Every child born comes with a message that God has not yet despaired of humankind." His belief in the purity and innocence of the child gives hope for tomorrow.
However, the realities facing children today are poverty, violence and a deteriorating environment. The purity and innocence of the child cannot but be affected by such grave situations.
There is a poem believed to be written by Bankei, a respected Japanese Buddhist priest: "A newborn child becomes wiser and wiser, but further from Buddha-hood. How very sad."
This poem reflects sadness at children getting caught up in the secular values created by adults and growing away from the Buddha.
The GNRC takes this problem seriously and has developed and is today launching an Interfaith Program for Ethics Education for the children of the world. This program is a significant step in teaching our children and youth the importance of non-violence and the spirit of sharing in combating the root causes of the problems in today's world.
I deeply share the GNRC's eagerness, and its faith in children and their ability to become the protagonists of social change.
A society which defends the dignity of children is a society which also defends the dignity of adults. There is a saying, "The child is the father of the adult." Concerns about the present and the future of the children lead to questions about the ways of adults.
I hope that the three days of the Forum will deepen understanding for what the GNRC has achieved and lead to a world where every life is valued.
In closing, may the wisdom of participants from all walks of life bear fruit. Thank you.