2007 Eighth Grade Second Place

Ben Boyle, Washington.

Compassion or Violence:

Which has a greater impact on society?

Violence grabs headlines and seems more prevalent in the world today, but it is compassion, not violence, that had a greater impact on society. Compassion is about feeling for others. Violence seems to dominate the universe; because it is everywhere we look. Compassion, on the other had, often goes unnoticed, but it is very much alive and can save the world.

            When you ask people just what is compassion, you will get many different answers. Compassion, someone will say, is caring about others. Compassion is feeling what others are feeling as they suffer. Compassion is reaching out to help someone. All of these things are true. Compassion is a deep feeling for someone who is struggling. Yet compassion is more then just feeling and caring. Compassion means taking action to help and stop the suffering others are experiencing. Even the smallest acts of compassion affect the world in a positive way.

            It is true that violence lives in every part of our society. It sells newspapers. It sells movies. We want to understand why it is happening. Yet, it is no more than a trap humans can fall into, a circle of reaction. We are hit; we hit back. There is a reason you learn when you are two years old that hitting back is the wrong thing to do. If you hit, you get hit. If you drop a bomb they drop a bomb. Violence is contagious, but it is a negative force.

            Learning about a compassionate act, though, makes us stop and think. When we hear the President of the United States in the State of the Union Address point out a man who has thrown himself on the tracks of a subway to save someone from an oncoming train, we ask ourselves, "Would I do that?" We want to be like that person and be able to answer, "Yes." Compassion, like violence, spreads and grows. The difference in its impact on society comes from the fact that compassion in a positive force. If you smile and speak with someone when you see they are unhappy, you have changed their day. When you visit your neighbor who is lonely, you have changed their day. These people are going to think about helping others, because they have been touched by someone's kindness. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. lived a life of compassion. In his speeches he stressed how important it was to fight oppression peacefully and calmly rather than with violence. His compassion changed the world.

            Compassion speaks louder than violence. Perhaps it is because we see it less often that it has greater strength. Step by step though, compassion weaves the fabric that holds our whole society together. Violence tears us apart; compassion brings us together. Compassion lead to peace and, finally will save the world.



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