The Women's Executive Committee of Religions for Peace Japan held a study session on July 23 titled "Protecting the Dignity of Life" at the Institute of Infant Jesus Sisters (Nicolas Barré) in Tokyo. The committee chairman is Rev. Yukiko Moriwaki, president of Hallelujah-kai, a Catholic association affiliated with the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Tokyo. Fifty people took part, including non-Catholics and members of Religions for Peace Japan's member organizations. They included Rev. Nichiko Niwano, president of Religions for Peace Japan and of Rissho Kosei-kai, and Mrs. Niwano.
Rev. Dr. Alfons Deeken, a professor emeritus at Sophia University in Tokyo, spoke on "life education." He stressed that reflecting on death can make people more aware of the preciousness of life, and he described his concept of educating people in preparation for death, which he has advocated for a long time. Referring to social problems such as the recent increase in suicides and bullying in schools, he emphasized the importance of feeling solidarity with other people as members of a community, of cultivating warmhearted consideration for others' suffering, and of endeavoring to reflect objectively on one's own troubles.
Father Deeken emphasized that death should not be considered taboo as a topic for family discussion. He described the importance of regarding deaths in the immediate and extended family as precious opportunities for the education even of small children.
He said that since humor helps people respect the preciousness of their own lives and the lives of others, he recommended humor in education. He said the essence of humor is consideration and love. It not only helps build kindly relationships with others but becomes a new light of hope when people are suffering or grieving, he said.
A series of study sessions have been held since 2008 as some of the committee's peace projects. The sessions' purpose is to teach the importance of protecting the dignity of life, to share perspectives on various forms of violence, and to seek and implement solutions to violence.
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