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Ikeda Center Podcast

This is the official podcast of the Ikeda Center for Peace, Learning, and Dialogue. Founded in 1993 by Buddhist thinker and leader Daisaku Ikeda, the Center engages diverse scholars, activists, and social innovators in the search for the ideas and solutions that will assist in the peaceful evolution of humanity. In addition to hosting seminars, public forums and talks, the Center also publishes books and web resources related to peace, education, and human dignity.
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Aug 29, 2016

In this episode, Dr. Judith Thompson shares some insights on the lens of social healing and its relation to peace building.  She comments that “The social healing lens is really a paradigm; it’s a vision that arises basically from the inherent truth of interconnectivity, which is to say it’s a lens of compassion. And I see it as an evolutionary step for us. The older paradigm, the paradigm of separation, which has brought with it a retributive lens, let us say, within the field that I work in, sees and depends upon on some level people being able to separate themselves from the other and not have a sense of relatedness to the experience of the other."  

She continues: "Compassion arises in the process of social healing because we are able to let go of a sense of rigid self, and often that’s a righteous self that sits in judgment of the other. But when at the point that we are able to say ah I recognize that I too have been a victim, or I too have been a perpetrator, or I too have stood by while others have been harmed. That allows us to recognize that we’re all in this together, and that there’s a communal enterprise. And that’s really what social healing is about."

Dr. Thompson has been engaged in projects promoting social healing for over twenty years, working primarily with survivors of war and political violence. As part of her doctoral research for the Union Institute, she convened a three-day dialogue hosted by the Ikeda Center that brought together 25 people from all over the world to explore the question, "How does compassion arise in the process of social healing?" In 1984, Thompson co-founded Children of War, Inc., an award-winning international youth leadership organization that supported the vision and leadership of young activists from 22 war-torn countries.  Dr. Thompson has also helped to develop social healing programs in Israel/Palestine and Cambodia and has worked closely with indigenous elders from North, Central, and South America who are seeking to support worldwide social and ecological healing through their traditional ceremonies.   Dr. Thompson was recipient of the Bunting Peace Fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies and the International Peace Prize of the Dolores Kohl Education Foundation. 

The audio from this interview is from a series of video reflections that were posted on the Ikeda Center YouTube page in August of 2011.  

Jul 7, 2016

In the second of our conversation with Matt Meyer, he shares some insights on bringing peace education into the classroom. Professor Meyer explains, “If one understands, if one thinks about the power of love and the power of hate, the power of passion in one's own pedagogy, and in one's own life and movement building, then one will have access to a greater range of more powerful tools than if one was unconscious of these very important forces.”  

He continues, “If you go in with respect, with the truth, with your own honest self, no matter what you teach, you will most likely get it back from at least the vast majority of students you're teaching. And to me that says a lot, not just about how to become a good teacher, but how to become a good organizer and a good person.” 

Matt Meyer is a New York City-based educator, activist, and author, is coordinator of the War Resisters International Africa Support Network, and United Nations/ECOSOC representative of the International Peace Research Association.

The audio from this interview is from a series of video reflections that were posted on the Ikeda Center YouTube page in Spring 2016. 

Jun 2, 2016

In episode 8 of the Ikeda Center Podcast, Matt Meyer discusses the significance of love, dialogue, and unity in peace and justice movements today. He comments, “We know that in building a nonviolent movement—in education, in practical grassroots realities, and in our personal lives—that we need to confront injustice, hopelessness, and the problems that are around us in the world. So revolutionary nonviolence and a continuum of nonviolence, for me, centers around understanding our own power, in truth, in soul, and in love.”

Meyer continues, “It's time to engage in dialogue across ideological difference, across racial, ethnic, social and cultural difference, across class difference. And to look at where we have points of principal, but real unity. Without unity, and without a sense of unity among people working for a positive change, we're lost.”

Matt Meyer is a New York City-based educator, activist, and author, is coordinator of the War Resisters International Africa Support Network, and a United Nations/ECOSOC representative of the International Peace Research Association

The audio from this interview is from a series of video reflections that were posted on the Ikeda Center YouTube page in Spring 2016. 

Apr 19, 2016
In episode 7 of the Ikeda Center podcast, Donna Hicks introduces her definition of the concept of dignity as well as its relation to resolving conflict. She explains, "Every single one of us, we all have dignity. We're born with it. It's part of who we are as a human being and we all have inherent value and inherent worth. In fact, I would even argue that we are not only valuable and worthy, but that we are invaluable, that we're priceless and irreplaceable.” 
 
Dr. Hicks also shares insights on fostering a culture of dignity in the workplace. She states, ”I think a good leader will recognize that not only does she or he have to embrace the work, but also embrace the concept that we want everybody to be treated as if they're valued and cared for here.”

Dr. Hicks is Associate at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University, and author of the "Dignity: The Essential Role it Plays in Resolving Conflict." She has 20 years of experience facilitating dialogue between communities in conflict all over the world, including the Middle East, Sri Lanka, Colombia, Cuba, and Northern Ireland.  Learn more about her work at: drdonnahicks.com

The audio from this interview is from a series of video reflections that were posted on the Ikeda Center YouTube page in January of 2015. 
Mar 14, 2016

In this recent interview, Dr. Meenakshi Chhabra shares some insights on the role of dignity in relation to peace and conflict resolution.  Dr. Chhabra introduces some experiences from her work in conflict resolution, sharing, "it's so much easier to feel dignity for people that I like, or that I have no differences with, no problems with that dignity. But, I think it's crucial that--and the test is really--can I feel the same way for people that I have differences with; who I don't want to talk to, who I turn my face away from on a day-to-day even, leave aside groups, but on day-to-day interactions. Can I bring forth that feeling: 'yes, they have their dignity too?'"  

She continues: "The connection between the self and the other is really the foundation in this whole process of understanding dignity for me. And what I mean by seeing the connection between self and other is to really know and recognize that when I affirm your dignity, I am affirming mine, and when I negate your dignity I am negating mine, so it's a choice but also necessary that to affirm my dignity I affirm yours." 

Dr. Chhabra is Associate Professor of Global Interdisciplinary Studies in the Graduate School of Arts and Social Sciences at Lesley University.  She has been a scholar and practitioner in the field of Peace and Conflict Studies since 2001.  The focus of her research is in Peace education and youth development in conflict zones with an emphasis on South Asia.  

The audio from this interview is from a series of video reflections that were posted on the Ikeda Center YouTube page in February of 2015.  

Feb 17, 2016

In this final segment of our three part interview, Dr. Ceasar McDowell introduces some early experiences that have inspired his work in community development.  He also discusses the evolution of how we organize ourselves as human beings in community.  He comments that while in the past we were born into specific communities or chose communities that were local and familiar, now "all of that has changed."  He adds that "we often find ourselves in places where we can’t then build an integrated community, so we look at how do we then take care of that other part of ourselves, which we can say is spiritual, relational, whatever it may be...For some people, they start to do it around work, or they do it around their habits, or they do it around church...All of that still keeps us separate, because now you’re holding this multiplicity of the places where you’re finding your identity and yourself and your connection, and it ends up being fragmented in some ways."  Dr. McDowell continues by exploring this new space that we find ourselves in, one of transition and change.  

Dr. McDowell is President of Interaction Institute for Social Change, and Professor of the Practice of Community Development at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He also serves as Director of the global civic engagement organization, Engage The Power. 
Jan 19, 2016

In the second of this three part interview, Dr. Ceasar McDowell details his vision for democracy as an ongoing process of interaction and engagement.  He shares that the work of democracy is "how people come to know and understand both each other, the issues that are important to them, and how they want to make meaning together."  He adds that his current work is focused on the idea of Big democracy which he describes as, "an aspiration. And at the core of this aspiration is the belief that the public is fully capable of working together to create sustainable, just, and equitable communities. But to do so the public must have ongoing, peaceful ways to interact around traditions that bind them, and interests that separate them, so they can realize a future that is an equitable improvement on the past.”

Dr. McDowell is President of Interaction Institute for Social Change, and Professor of the Practice of Community Development at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He also serves as Director of the global civic engagement organization, Engage The Power.   

Dec 17, 2015

In the first of this three part interview with Dr. Ceasar McDowell, he describes the central focus of his work in the development of community knowledge systems and civic engagement.  He also shares some examples of how that focus has manifested.  In his words, "I can boil it down to one thing. My work, my research interests, my life, is about voice. And particularly how people—and specifically the people who are at the margins of society--are able to both name their experience in the world, have that naming be recognized, and also open themselves up to the experience of others."

Dr. McDowell is President of Interaction Institute for Social Change, and Professor of the Practice of Community Development at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He also serves as Director of the global civic engagement organization, Engage The Power.   

Nov 9, 2015

In part two of this interview exploring the practice and practice of education, the late Dr. Vincent Harding (Professor Emeritus of Religion and Social Transformation at the Iliff School of Theology, and Chairperson of the Veterans of Hope Project) argues that we can only teach young people how to pay attention by actively paying attention to them. He also addresses the role of faith and faith-based communities in fostering nonviolent action.  Masao Yokota (Adviser to the Ikeda Center) conducted this interview in 2001.  (Part 2 of 2)

Oct 2, 2015

In this interview from 2001, the late Dr. Vincent Harding (Professor Emeritus of Religion and Social Transformation at the Iliff School of Theology, and Chairperson of the Veterans of Hope Project) shares ideas on the purpose and practice of education: its relationship with our humanity, how teachers can impart something more valuable than knowledge, and why adults should pay attention to children. Masao Yokota (Adviser to the Ikeda Center) conducted the interview.  (Part 1 of 2)

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