2015 – 5th Grade National 3rd Place Winner

Natalie Cieprisz , New York.

Violence = Compassion

Compassion. noun. Sympathy for the suffering of others. Violence. noun. An act involving force, intending to cause pain. Many people have been impacted by other violence and compassion. However, my position is that they are equal They are opposites, and they cancel each other out. Violence and compassion have equal impact on society because violence can cause hate and sadness, but compassion can cause love and happiness; you cannot have one without the other. When you hear about violence, you feel compassion for the victims.

Pandora’s box, from the Greek myth of Pandora, was filled with all the bad things in the world like war, pain, and violence. At the very bottom, there was a tiny bit of hope, and this is like compassion. Just a little bit of hope can help everything. A little bit of compassion. It’s like a ying yang, with a tiny bit of light in darkness, and a tiny bit of darkness in light. It’s like a little bit of hope, love, compassion, in the middle of worry, hate, and violence.

One winter day in 2012, Officer Lawrence DePrimo came across a barefoot homeless man. DePrimo felt sorry for the man, for the world had been cruel and violent to him. He was, after all, homeless and barefoot on the streets of New York in the winter. It was a very cold winter, too. DePrimo later said, “It was freezing out, and I could see blisters on the man’s feet. I had two pairs of socks, and I was still cold.” So, here we have this freezing, barefoot man. Then a police officer would buy $100 boots for him. This is a huge act of compassion. Most people could not do this. They excuse themselves by saying that they don’t have money to spare. So, in today’s stingy, miser world, this one act of compassion makes them stop and say, “Wow! That was a really nice thing to do.” In fact, many people have. Jennifer Foster, a tourist passing by, who also happened to be the dispatching manager at the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office, said, “I have been in law enforcement for 17 years. I was never so impressed in my life… It is important, I think, for all of us to remember the real reason we are in this line of work. The reminder this officer gave to our profession in his presentation of human kindness has not been lost.” Other people were similarly impacted. Jack Horton wrote on Facebook, “Wow. It is nice to know there are still good people out there.” Charlene Hoffman-Pestell wrote, “Angels truly do walk on earth!!!”

This example demonstrates how violence and compassion come together and how closely they are often intertwined with each other. Violence has certainly had an impact on the world. It had made it tough and cruel. But compassion has healed a little bit of heartlessness, the fear, and the sorrow. It has made the world a better, kinder place to live in. This one act of kindness and compassion has a huge impact on many people’s lives because they decide to change and try to be more compassionate. Even if they don’t do something, they want to change, and combat violence. They try to be more compassionate and loving. Violence can do terrible things. It makes us sad and hurt. We feel inclined to help, to become more compassionate. Compassion can cause us to change for the better. We want to be better, even in the face of all the violence in the world.

However, a person who showed almost no compassion whatsoever was Adolf Hitler. He was changed by violence and hatred. He caused hate and violence towards many people. In 1898, Adolf Hitler moved to Vienna, where he had few contacts with Jews. In 1909, Hitler left Vienna and went to Munich. It is likely that Hitler experienced and possible that he shared the general anti-Semitism common among middle-class German nationalists. However, he knew Jews in Vienna and depended on Jews for business reasons. It wasn’t until after World War I that he developed a hatred of Jews. He was impacted by Vienna’s anti-Semitic Mayor, Karl Lueger and Georg von Schonerer, an Austrian land owner and politician of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. Soon Hitler decided that Jews were the enemies of the world, particularly the Germans. He joined the Nazi party and made many speeches. One night, a man said some compassionate things about the Jews. Hitler then made a speech full of hatred. Hitler was a monster who hated Jews even before the Holocaust. He used both physical and emotional violence that killed many innocent people. He was violent. Many people today remember him being violent and ruthless. When we think of him, we also think of the people he slaughtered. He ended pure, innocent lives. When we think of these pure, innocent lives, we can’t help but feel compassion for them. Similar to the previous example, even in Hitler’s case both compassion and violence can be found, as one does not seem to be able to exist without the other. Hitler changed the world with violence, while DePrimo changed the world with compassion, but was changed by it.

Someone changed by both violence and compassion was St. Francis of Assisi. Although he is said to have been very kind and generous, especially to animals, that was not true until later. St. Francis of Assisi was a rich and greedy man. Then he went to war. He saw many gruesome and bloody things. He wore flashy and expensive armor, which made him easy to see and get captured. Guess what? He was captured and jailed. While in jail, he began to see visions of God. It greatly changed him. After the war, when he was free, he went to church and heard a sermon that changed his life forever. He decided to live a humble and poor life. He even hugged a leper, a thing that no one did, because everyone believed lepers should not be touched because leprosy was contagious. St. Francis did not believe this. He believed everyone should be cared for and hugged. This shows compassion because St. Francis hugged someone with a contagious disease. He showed kindness for the man. Both the compassionate sermon and the violent war changed the life of St. Francis of Assisi. Violence and compassion worked together to change him. They go hand in hand to have an equal impact on society. St. Francis of Assisi did not change the world, like what happened in my other examples, but the world changed him.

Violence and compassion are present in every act of our lives. Everything we say and do can fit under either category, and sometimes both. Hitting someone fits under violence. Hugging them fits under compassion. Buying a homeless man $100 boot for his cold, bare feet in the winter fits under compassion. Adolf Hitler brutally killing people because of their religious beliefs fits under violence. St. Francis of Assisi seeing gruesome, horrible, and bloody things is violent but deciding to change for the better is compassion. Both violence and compassion are opposites. They cannot exist without each other. Violence and compassion individually can do many things, good and bad, but when they are together, they can impact the world. Violence can never be completely driven out, and compassion will never be completely dominant, but both impact the work in an equal way. Where there is violence, we will find compassion.

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