2005 - 8th Grade 4th Place:

C. J. Stermetz, Arizona

Truth or Beauty?

The question is asked, "What is more important in your life, Truth or Beauty?" After considerable thought and a fair amount of discussion with my family and friends, I have concluded that Truth is more important to me than Beauty. I appreciate Beauty. She can be grand and compelling. But she can also be shifty and elusive, and she has a dark side. Truth is Beauty's plain and sometimes unpopular sister. She is quiet and honest. She unmasks Ignorance, and has proven enormously helpful to humankind.

We are all familiar with Beauty. Who has not been moved by the grandeur of a view from a mountain peak, or the brilliant colors in a sunset? Who has not been inspired by the masterpieces of Michelangelo or Rembrandt? We have all been touched by her. We appreciate her and even love her. But we should approach her with caution, for she is ephemeral and enticing, and when given too much adulation, her dark side emerges.

Yes, we know Beauty--her benevolent side, and her dark side. In our society, she is worshipped. She is attractive, thin and young. She gazes at us from magazine covers and movie screens as if to say, "Look like me and have what I have, and you will be happy." And we listen. We spend billions of dollars on diets and cosmetics. Young people starve themselves to be like her. In our worship of Beauty we buy expensive clothing, bigger and fancier houses, and flashier, sleeker cars that we really cannot afford. We want to be like her, to have what she has. And in the process we waste valuable resources of time and money.

Compared to her sister, Truth is quite plain. She does not flatter us or lie to us. We sometimes resist her because, as any good friend will do, she often tells us things that, at first, may be difficult for us to accept. In years past, some who have defended her have been put to death. We are the beneficiaries of their sacrifices, and their legacies remain. Over time, Truth has proven herself to be humanity's friend, and our loyal ally in the fight against Ignorance. Investing resources in her pursuit has yielded tremendous rewards. With her help we have unlocked mysteries about the planet we live on, and the animals and plants we share our planet with. We have learned about the universe that extends beyond our atmosphere, and the DNA within ourselves. We have conquered diseases, discovered antibiotics, developed vaccines, and mapped our genetic code. Truth is helping us live longer, healthier lives.

So while I am acquainted with Beauty, and appreciate her finer features, my love for Truth is far more deep and enduring. She has changed and blessed my life, indeed all of our lives, forever. An, never content, still she beckons us forward, encouraging us to open ourselves to her, to listen to her, and to follow her into the future.

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