2011 – National 7th Grade 5th Place Award Winner:

Lucia Bell-Epstein, New York.

Do the Ends Justify the Means ?

Civilization teaches us that violence creates chaos, which makes a society crumble. If violence takes over, mayhem will be everywhere. Therefore, the ends justify the means until any type of emotional or physical violence occurs. People in this world have different moral standards. Different people will go to different extremes to get what they want. Some people may think that using violence is acceptable, while others may differ. There is a sliding scale of right and wrong in each of us, and we choose our own weight. However, using violence to reach to our ends is morally unacceptable in a civilized society.

As Plato once said, “He who commits injustice is ever made more wrenched than he who suffers it.” If you use violence to reach your end and harm a life while doing so, you will feel worse than the victim you hurt. You are not only hurting your victim, but you are also hurting yourself.

America is in a horrible war with Afghanistan, and is killing thousands of innocent people just to make Americans feel safe from terrorists. The Army’s use of violence goes against America’s moral standards, which are based on respecting each other’s rights. Even if we do win this war, we don’t know for certain that it will really keep us safe from terrorists. America has gone too far by using violence for a goal, which may not be reached. Even if America does achieve its goal, it has used the wrong methods to get there, and that can never be justified.

During the Iraq war, some American soldiers water-boarded people who might have been innocent. Even if they were guilty, torturing them would still be inhumane. Torturing a human being goes again all respect for human life; torture is not part of dignified civilizations. There is a chance that torturing prisoners would be helpful, but there is also a chance that it wouldn’t. Victims being water boarded would probably lie, and might become evil because our society hurt and corrupted their minds. As a nation, America believes in giving prisoners a fair trial instead of persecuting them with torture. Water boarding involved emotional and physical violence, which were unacceptable to America’s moral code. Therefore, no ends justify the means of torture.

Rosa Parks and Cesar Chavez achieved their ends by using justified means. Rosa Parks fought for her seat on a segregated bus without using violence. She used words and simple actions to reach her goal. As did Cesar Chavez, who went on strike so he and the other Hispanic farm workers could have legal rights to clean drinking water and access to bathrooms. Overall, these two important historical figures were able to attain their goals without involving violence.

If the means to an end require using violence, it is not worth it, even if the goal is crucial. Violence is destructive to functioning, civilized societies and causes people to become barbaric. Other methods, such as words and peaceful actions, will make a difference.


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