2019 – 6th Grade National 3rd Place Winner

Zoe Schoen, New York.


The Quieter, Stronger Force

News stories make it easy to believe hate is everywhere and affects almost everything, but what is the quieter, stronger force? Love. Newspapers highlight tragic, hateful events precisely because they are newsworthy, shocking and unusual events that stand out against the love-filled day-to-day lives of most people. Although hate has a large impact on society, evidence from literature, history and the current world situation shows love is more powerful in many ways.

Literature frequently reflects loves power in overcoming difficulties and improving the lives of individuals and people close to them. For example, in Lily’s Crossing by Patricia Reilly Giff, Lily's love for her grandmother and eventually Albert helps her bear her wartime separation from her father and best friend. Albert’s deep friendship with Lily is a lifeline for him as he struggles with his separation from his sister. Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott, likewise demonstrates love’s power for people facing separation and loss, along with financial and other troubles. The March family’s love helps them through everyday challenges, their father's absence an injury during the Civil War, and the devastating death of one of the sisters. As in these books, it is common for a love to triumph over everyday problems and greater issues affecting individuals and families.

The World Wars show love is powerful not only for individuals and families, but also for whole societies. During World War II, Nazis persecuted and encouraged hatred of many people. However, countries fought the Nazis because the Nazis threatened everything they loved, including their national identities and safety. This love helped the allies win despite hardships and suffering. During World War I, love halted fighting. The Christmas truce in 1914 may not have been official or common, but many honored it, believing that Christmas should be a time of love and peace, not violence. Love played an important role in shaping societies’ priorities during both of these wars.

In the world now, opportunities to hope and love help people overcome differences that lead to hatred and strife. Sometimes hatred develops because of different beliefs and competing economic and political interest, as in the Middle East. In difficult or desperate situations, people are easily susceptible to hating and blaming others who are different. In our country, with fewer dangers and hardships and access to better education about other beliefs and needs, there is less violence. Communities, friendships and families, which may include people of multiple backgrounds, are all opportunities for love that often mean far more than differences.

Most people feel love for friends and family, as well as for values and ways of life. Love is a frequent theme in literature because of its strength and prevalence. Historical events also provide evidence of the power of love, as in both World Wars. When people are loved, helped and educated, there is more room for hope and happiness and less room for hatred.




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