2019 – National High School 2nd Place
Sherry Chen, Pennsylvannia.
Hate or Love?
Love can have many faces - collections of Japanese Noh masks that resound with the most complex human emotions. Love can be the light of redemption for a soul crying out in despair; it can be the bottomless chasm that distorts passion into hatred. There are many human traits that can be associated with love: compassion and sympathy from understanding of another person's reason for devotion; jealousy from a desire to selfishly possess a cherished object; loyalty, as a sign of faithfulness and an unconditional willingness to trust in someone; hatred, often from heartrending betrayals that corrode away at once affectionate love. The stage on which these masks play out their stories would be the history of human relationships.
The destructive nature that is associated with hatred can be exemplified in how it inflicts devastating wounds upon society. Acts of terrorism, extreme measures of white supremacy, along with various other heinous crimes are all capable of toppling stable societies. Even one act of hatred can have rippling effects that spread like poison and infect the entire balance of a community. However, what should be noted is that the force behind these acts are all human, which means that even the most seemingly incomprehensible crimes have motives. History itself serves as undeniable evidence that humans are capable of committing atrocious deeds against one another in the name of love.
Sometimes, people commit crimes as retaliation against a wrong and as a result they become subjected to lasting condemnation. To outsiders, all violent acts are collectively labeled as crimes and disturbances to society that should be punished, but to the criminals, their crimes may have stemmed from well intentions. Parents may also have well intentions in discriminating against former criminals as a way to protect their children out of love, but in the process, a cycle of hatred is created by forcing the former criminals to become the focus of public repulsion.
On the other hand, publicly approved wars and mass destruction may be viewed differently, but the underlying principle is the same: what seems to be motivated by hatred may actually find its source in love. These wars, filled with murderous intent on the battlefield, are often waged with patriotism, the belief that one is defending one's country and family from an enemy, as the carrying force. Without the love that the soldiers hold for the families they've left behind, their own attempts to convince themselves of their hatred for the enemy would become empty excuses for cold hearted murder. Without love as the reason to hate complete strangers, soldiers would be unable to bear the burden of self-hatred that comes with guilt.
What cannot be strictly defined, and its fluidity is the reason why it encompasses all other human emotions. While it can be the source of hatred, it is also a subtle support that is the foundation of every family, friendship, and community. Without it, society itself cannot exist.
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