2004 — 3rd Place — 8th Grade

Alex Hoffman, Oregon


The clangor of weaponry and the screams of the wounded resound through our past and present. War and violence have existed all throughout history. Greed, cruelty, and the lust for power are intrinsic to human nature. These factors make peace impossible. We, as a society, are too deeply entrenched in strife to forsake our violent ways.

Even though the much of society may be peaceful, there will always be scourges of humanity that crave and hold power. There will always be another Hitler, Stalin, or Saddam to impose their cruelty upon mankind. Hasn't our past shown that these dictators will do anything to force and bully their way to the top? One could argue that humanity will learn not to entrust power such a fiend, but then, when does society ever heed caveats from the past?

While most people desire conciliation, they often don't know the means to achieve it. For example, a lord thinks of his people, and how they would be much safer if the neighboring fiefdom was subjugated. So the lord and his knights ride to battle. After destroying the enemy, they incinerate their towns, and massacre the women and children. This eventually ends in a measure of peace, but the means to arrive there are tarnished with bloodshed. "In their quest for happiness, humans have used different methods, which all too often have been cruel and repellent. Behaving in ways utterly unbecoming to their status as humans, they inflict suffering upon fellow humans and other living beings for their own selfish gains." Speak the Dalai Lama. True harmony is impossible if we can't use ethical means to achieve it. If society were to arrive at state of nonviolence, it could only come about by repressing human behaviors with coerce. This would not be true peace, only an illusion created by force.

Violence! Everyday it consumes our lives through video games, TV, and reality. Brutality has become akin to the automobile, in its irrevocable part of our lifestyle. Our whole society takes the blame for this moral and ethical depression. Some may claim that we can eventually create peace, but think of our history. Never before has peace truly triumphed, and never will peace reign in the future.

We have surrounded ourselves in violence too thoroughly to wade back to peace. History and human nature have shown that peace is unattainable. Society will drown in its man-made muck of violence and brutality.

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