2015 – International Award Winner

Ji Won Kim, United Kingdom.

One might say that the belief that violence has a greater impact on society is simply the view of a realist. It is easy to see the way that wars have shaped civilizations and nations throughout history. Viking invasions, Roman conquests, the Crusades, the Cambodian genocide, World Wars I and II: there are a plethora of examples from which to choose. Yet, I believe that whilst violence has the capability to spark temporary, yet potentially very impactful, response from the community, it is the spirit of benevolence that has enduring reverberations.

The violent, sweeping crimes committed by Islamic extremists are broadcast in the media world –wide, making it appear that hatred is the face of Islam, when in truth the Quran teaches tolerance, universal brotherhood, and peace. Certain groups or individuals have used religion and other institutions cloaks to commit heinous crimes—not just Islamic extremists, but also Catholics during the Crusades, and the Nazis against Jews and the disabled.

In fact, World War II is a perfect example of how brutality does not endure in comparison to empathy. During Hitler’s formation of the Nazi Empire, approximately six million Jews were murdered, in addition to members of other target groups, such as the disabled, homosexuals and dissenting clergy and political groups. The more aware the international community grew of the atrocities of Nazi Germany, the more committed Allied countries around the world became to stop the chain of violence.
There is enough evil in the world to make us all feel hopeless at times, yet compassion outlasts any forms of violence, standing the test of time and showing the enduring good of man. During the Korean War, the streets were filled with orphans abandoned by all family and community. American preacher, Reverend Everett Swanson, who went to South Korea to speak to the troops stationed there, was deeply moved by this, and his compassion lead to the establishment of Compassion International, a program that has provided aid to more than 1.3 million babies, children, and college students in twenty-six developing countries.

Compassion is the utmost way to show and preserve our humanity. Without compassion, our world would be dominated by physical power and savagery. Through compassion, we can navigate our way out from a world filled with prejudice and fear, and keep ourselves from becoming victims. When we are ruled by empathy, we stop others from being bullied or deceived by false views of society. The divisions between Islamic, Catholic, and Jew; black and white; North Korean and South Korean; rich and poor do not matter, because in each person we see ourselves. We evolve beyond race, religious, and class boundaries. Some people think and compassion is abstract emotion rather than catalyst for change, yet compassion is a true stimulus to ending violence.

In other words, terror can control and immobilize a community, creating division and paralysis—or worse, more acts of violence. However empathy has the potential to inspire people to come together in positive ways to make society better in the long-term. Fear may grant power, but any prize won by violence will be short-lived. At the end of the day, the expansive and freeing influence of compassion will live in peoples’ hearts for generations to come.


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