Finalist, 2004 Kids Philosophy Slam
Hannah Esrick, age 17
Northampton, MA

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 people's weapons.

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.

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