2007 National 3rd Place Winner:

Meaghan Coombs, Massachusetts.

My life, Impacted by Violence

            The past few years of my life have been exceptionally significant in terms of growing up. I can strongly say that the person I am today, as well as my maturity level, has been shaped due to the impact that violence has had on my life. Therefore, after looking back and thinking about society, including my own life, I feel that violence has had a greater impact on society then compassion. Violence is defined as damage through distortion or unwarranted alteration. Unwarranted alteration has affected my life immensely, and compassion, a deep awareness of the suffering of others, did not make that go away. In order to understand another's suffering, violence has to occur. Compassion does come out of violence, and I feel the greater impact on society has been violence.

            Five and a half years ago the terrorist attacks on September eleventh affected thousands of people across the nation. This violent act sparked compassion, yet families still suffer day-to-day without their loved ones by their side. I lost someone I loved on that day. One his way to a business trip, my dad was on flight eleven when hijackers took over the plane and crashed it into the World Trade Center. Along with the rest of society, my family is an example of personal devastation due to an extremely violent act.

            The minute the news of my dad's death was public, friends, family, relatives, and even people we had never met came to our help immediately. Through violence came an amazing act of compassion. However, without this violent act, society and small communities probably wouldn’t have come together to build a strong, helpful, compassionate unit. Of course, my family and I appreciated society's compassion, but that did not make the pain go away. Compassion did not erase the violent act that forever changed my life.

            If violence never occurred, would society have come together like they did. This question remains unanswered, because society does now know life without violence. Whether on the news, in an individual's personal life, on the streets, or even in different parts of the world, violence has, and will continue to impact society greatly. As Faith Evans sings, "Wish I could take away the pain out of your hands and help you hold them high. I know it ain't easy but it will be okay. I wish that we only saw good news every time we look at CNN, Wish I could bring back the people that died, I know it ain't easy but, it will be okay." This song truly depicts the violence that happens in society, and the compassion an individual feels for the victim affected. The narrator of this song wishes she could take away the pain, but her compassion cannot undo violence and the pain which is now buried deep inside of many victims of violent acts. If compassion means feeling the suffering of others, violence would have to occur first. Compassion sometimes improves violence, but it will never make it vanish forever; therefore, violence impacts society more than compassion.


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