The process of democratization is long and arduous; in many senses, Japanese democracy remains immature. But I think we need to remember that democracy everywhere is by its nature incomplete, a work in progress. The great American philosopher John Dewey warned against confusing the means, the forms and procedures of democracy, with its end--a truly empowered and autonomous citizenry. He urged us to take up the challenge of reinventing democracy with each new generation and saw education as vital to this process.
Education, where the rising generation is fostered and shaped, can, as was the case in wartime Japan, instill a violent and racist ideology. Or it can open people to a full humanistic appreciation of the inherent dignity of all people everywhere, laying the foundations for democracy and peace. Such education makes us truly free.
Excerpt from "The Arduous Birth of Democracy" by SUA Founder Daisaku Ikeda. Published in The Japan Times on Oct. 22, 2005.