Finalist, 2004 Kids Philosophy Slam
Hannah Esrick, age 17
A seven year old girl is rummaging through
a desk drawer, looking for something in which to write a letter.
She finally finds a leaky pen and begins scribbling. She isn't
trying to be messy. She's trying to write as neatly as possible,
but as usual her excitement gets the best of her.
The girl's fingers are sticky from a day of apple picking with
her new friend, Admir. He is from Bosnia and is still learning
English. He tells her stories about his family members, his grandmother
locked in a box back in Bosnia, with the bombs crashing over head.
The girl listens to the stories and learns about war. She decides
to write a letter to the president with a solution. Her idea is
to put sleeping powder in the water for everyone to drink. While
everyone is sleeping, the president can go around and take away
Nine years later the girl is rummaging through her desk, searching
for something to write with. She is asked to write about whether
she thinks world peace is impossible because of human nature.
Since her last letter, she has seen more movies, read more books,
traveled to other states, cities and countries, listened to more
conversations, and observed strangers, lovers, playful children,
teachers, workers and family members. In her own family she has
seen great acts of love, but also moments of anger and pain. She
has seen her father rush to the hospital at three in the morning
to help save an elderly woman, and witnessed her mother take care
of sick community members while also having patience and energy
for her family. The girl has spent days laughing with her younger
brother or older sister, and moments of screaming and threatening.
After nine years more experience of watching, observing, listening,
and participating, the girl is changing her ideas every day, and
has come to a wavering conclusion that world peace is possible
through human nature's social instincts.
The girl works at an Indian Restaurant downtown. While spraying
or setting up the tables she watches and listens to the customers.
She has seen young and old, women and men, people wearing religious
symbols and other wearing ripped denim jeans eating, talking and
enjoying one another's company. People are drawn to the restaurant
partly because of the food but also for the companionship. Food
brings people together.
Across a different table, the
girl remembers a debate between her father, a liberal Jew and
her eighty year old grandfather, a conservative Catholic. The
debate hinged on whether religious symbols should be allowed in
the courtroom. Her grandfather wanted the bible to be kept in
the courtroom while her father wanted to keep religion and law
separate. The girl's grandfather's body was frail but his ideas
were strong and his voice rose as he furiously expressed his ideas.
The two men of different religions and experiences were able to
debate and argue while being mindful and respectful.
The girl hopes that what she witnessed between her grandfather
and father, and the people at the Indian Restaurant, will happen
more and more world wide between nations. It is human nature to
be social and create human relationships. It is these relationships
that create love and kindness. If it is human nature that draws
two customers together to share a meal at the restaurant, or two
family members to resolve a fight, not because they agree but
because they know that they love one another, then it is human
nature that will ultimately create world peace.