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CLUB OF ROME DISCUSSES "SIGNS OF HOPE"
 
by Jeff Farr, staff writer
Puerto Rico, Nov. 29-Dec. 1
 

The Club of Rome has always walked its own path, eschewing short-term
political solutions for long-term humanistic ones. In his message to
this year's Club of Rome conference, SGI President[Daisaku] Ikeda
called the private think tank "the yes, voice and intellect of the
human race...a lighthouse marking the course humanity needs to take, a
beacon of hope for the entire world."

Formed in 1968, the club brings together 100 academic, business and
former government leaders to discuss world problems--what the club
calls the _problematique_--and offer solutions in the form of various
reports and continou dialog with those world leaders who will listen.
Many books are written by club members are available to the public,
including the 1972 bestseller _The Limits of Growth_, which first
linked economic growth to negative consequences for the environment.
The club also maintains a web site.

"We are vividly aware of the lack of political leadership almost
everywhere in the world," the club's declaration reads, "and the
absence of workable institutions for real international cooperation."
The club, whose members come from 52 countries and five continents,
hopes to serve the world's people in filling that void.

Hope was at the center of this conference' theme, "The World at a
Turning Point: Signs of Hope, Priority Issues." One of the most
interesting sessions was Sunday afternoon's on value conflicts and
mediation, during which Peter Berger, director of the Institute for
the Study of Economic Culture at Boston University, suggested that the
Buddhist-Christian dialogue now starting to take place is indeed a
"sign of hope"; it can even set an example of how value conflict re-
solution can take place in the secular world.

Other topics discussed and sometimes rigorously debated included the
future of employment and how new media will transform people's lives.
Whatever the topic, the club members grappled to envision the future
of human progress.

The SGI's relationship with the Club of Rome began with SGI President
Ikeda's friendship with Aurelio Peccei, the club's founder. Their
dialogue on world problems was published as _Before it is Too Late_ in
1984.

"I know that my father was always interested in trying to have a very
broad experience," Roberto Peccei, Auerlio Peccei's son and now a Club
of Rome member, explained. "That is, to listen to people of different
cultures, different backgounds. My father said, 'Look, we're all in
one world and it's important to get many different perspectives.'"

Auerlio Peccei, who died soon after the publication of _Before it is
Too Late_, was particularly attracted to President Ikeda's idea of
human revolution. He agreed with the SGI leader that the millenium can
be a "door" to a great period for humanity only if we learn to do
human revolution.

Roberto Peccei feels the SGI and the Club of Rome have important work
to do together in "stressing humanistic values." Mentioning that
President Ikeda does this in his writings, Roberto Peccei sees "an
overlap between what the club wants to do, which looks perhaps more
globally, and what the SGI wants to do, whcih tends to look more
internally, perhaps toward spiritual things."

Ten SGI-USA students who attended the conference as observers felt the
same way. Nicole Smith, a biological sciences student at the Univer-
sity of Maryland, said the conference reminded her what important role
the SGI plays on the world stage. "From attending this conference,"
she said, "I am determined to play a postive role as an SGI member who
can contribute to the overall change in the global problems that
affect the world."

All the students felt there was an urgency to the proceedings, a sense
that hope must be created soon. President Ikeda reminded the club that
there are less than 1,500 days before the millenium, urging them in
his message to act[...] The Club of Rome's message to the world? The
time to act is now.