2015 – 7th Grade National 3rd Place Winner

Alex Seidman, New York.

Violence above All

Our universe’s 13 billion year life span has been packed with both compassion and violence, but the one that has had the biggest impact is violence: which started it all with a big bang.

Whether it is providing assistance to one another or fighting each other, violence and compassion have coexisted and influenced history. Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, Jesus and countless others have shown that compassion can change the world. However, Osama Bin Laden, Adolf Hitler and Kim Jong Un, have sadly given us a perspective of how much more the world can be changed by violence.

Violence comes in different forms, but all are devastating. As with compassion, violence can be both physical and emotional. However, compassion is usually more personal where violence is often directed towards more people, thereby having a greater effect on the world. We see this in terrorism, cyber-attacks, and wars, where countries, an organized group, or just one person can cause havoc on our small planet—a place where even nature joins in on the violence. Events such as the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, the recent tidal wave in Japan, or the asteroid that hit Earth millions of years ago are all examples of how the world we know has been shaped by violence.

While compassion impacts our world in both big and small ways, violence always has a longer-lasting effect. An example of this is the assassination of the archduke of Austria in August of 1914. This act of violence changed lives around the world, starting with WW-I where millions of people died, empires and kingdoms fell, and new countries formed. Countries like Iraq, Iran and Syria, which were created after the war, have continued to be home to civil war and strife. After WW-I, Germany struggled for the next 20 years until starting yea another world war. Ironically, these wars did have some positive effects by encouraging the development of new technologies in medicine, travel, communication and even the invention of the computer.

The world I live in is filled with violence. Whether I see the news about ISIS or North Korea showing no mercy, or playing a video game where you try and kill another team for victory. In the books I read, on TV, in the movies I watch, and when I walk home I often see it with my own eyes. Despite being a compassionate person who loves his friends and family, what I have seen and learned over the past 12 years has shown me how truly violent our world is. Whether it is the big bang that created everything, in nature where only the strong survive, with countries wanting to conquer for more power, or individuals using force to get their way, in all ways our lives have been shaped more by violence than compassion.


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