2007— Most Philosophical 5th Grader in America:

Hannah Davis, Minnesota.

Compassion or violence, which has a greater impact on Society?

Violence had a greater impact on society because our world seems to be obsessed with violence. The media, such as television shows, newspapers, and newscasts flood us with scenes of blood and gore. Whether false or real, we drink it up. We have a natural hunger for violence that comes from survival instincts. Jane Goodall's studies show that one of the unfortunate characteristics we have in common with chimpanzees is our tendency to start colossal wars. This is relatively understandable, as violence will more likely result in animals and humans acquiring their basic necessities. However, we have gone beyond the realm of comprehension in our thirst for bloodshed and our failure to act on our morals.

            As a result of all this exposure to violence, many people no longer blink an eye at images of real violence, war, and devastation. Some kids even laugh at the idea of gory deaths. In this way, slowly, we are driving all the compassion out of our country. If any real violence happened to any of us, we would show ourselves to be cowards. The next generation may grow up to watch shows of pure death, laughing and cheering as acts of violence are portrayed on-screen.

            I am a ten-year-old kid who wants to protect myself from the appalling images in our lives. But if I do something as normal as read a book next to a newspaper reader, I will see a violent story without trying to, and have an urge to read more. I have turned the television on to put a movie in the VCR, and have seen much of this violence in five seconds. Our schools have become more and more anxious, until the point where not only do we have fire drills and tornado drills, we participate in lockdown drills. Not only do we have endless drills, but real events have a hair trigger reaction. We have had a lockdown when the police chased a criminal on the highway. These episodes can frighten kids greatly by making them think there is a gun-toting criminal right inside the building. When a thirteen year old girl was assaulted, a note was sent to children on the other side of town, petrifying them to no end. These episodes can frighten many of us out of out wits, and they are only random selections out of a modern human's normal life.

            On the other hand, when we hear stories of compassion, we murmur, "Oh, that's so sweet," and truly happy- for a while. We are glad to hear of these stories, but are not left craving more. We do not end up with television shows of teddy bears and pink unicorns. Stories of compassion rarely spiral and create more and more compassion. Instead we go home feeling tranquil, calm and peaceful, then we plunk ourselves onto the couch, turn on the TV- often to watch violence. We still care about the compassion, but it cannot sway our attention from the violence. We go on like this, shoving the compassion aside to make room for the violence. The violence grows and grows, until we have forgotten the compassion completely.

            This may seem as if compassion is disappearing from the world, but nothing could be further from the truth. All human beings have a seed of compassion, kindness, and love planted so firmly in our hearts that no amount of violence, war, and hatred can root it out. If we can find a way to nourish this tiny hope, compassion in the universe can grow and grow until it has completely reversed our society. Those who wish to stop the corruption of our world can make a difference if we try. I aspire to be on of those people.

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