2013 – National High School 4th Place

Harshil Garg, New York.

Which is more powerful, love or hate?

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."
- Martin Luther King Jr.

Hate is a blazing inferno of despair that, if left unrestrained, would uncontrollably ravage our society and threaten our very existence. It can only be doused with the immeasurable power of love, a cascading waterfall that flows in harmony and pacifies its surroundings. Indeed, "love conquers all" and, according to Mahatma Gandhi, "love is the strongest force the world possesses and yet it is the humblest imaginable." Even though hate may temporarily win, love always prevails in the end. Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., two of the most magnanimous individuals in history who persistently yet peacefully fought the great injustices and hatred of our society, used only love and its sole power to cleanse our society.

Mahatma Gandhi fearlessly led the independence movement in India against oppressive British rule. He understood that the anguish-causing power of hate could not compare with the deep everlasting power of love. Using only the concepts of ahimsa and protests as weapons, he was able to gain independence for India by persistently leading many civil acts of disobedience such as refusing to buy British products and the great Salt March to oppose taxation on salt. Mahatma wrote in his autobiography, "Hate the sin, love the sinner." The British brutally beat and violated Indians, but Mahatma did not seek to cause the British harm by waging war or using his sword; instead, he only wanted to stop injustice. He felt that only love would solve the situation and hatred would only escalate the problems. In the end, he was indeed justified in his principles when, in 1947, India was free from British rule.

Martin Luther King Jr. employed similar principles when he strived for civil rights for blacks in America during the 20th century. He believed that true strength is derived from the ability to love and overcome hatred. In his famous Letter from Birmingham Jail, in a civilized and logical manner, he explained the injustices of society. Instead of using outright insults and hatred to prove the equality of all races, he logically and calmly set forth his opinion. He led the Montgomery bus boycott, marches on Washington, and the Albany movement and in each one he only used love.

If the love of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. was able to cause such revolutionary changes in society, love truly must be the most powerful weapon. When someone loves their enemies regardless of how much hate is directed at them, the enemy will eventually realize the goodness of one's intention and will change. Hate is a never-ending cycle of harming others and experiencing pain. Although hate may be an immediate resolution to an issue, it is only temporary. Love and respect, however, can reform the evilest of people and show them that love is the only way to live one's life.

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