2006 — 8th Grade 5th Place

Leah Hurt, Iowa

As humans we are driven by our emotions. Those emotions are often dictated by the state of our environment. When surrounded by optimism, we tend to be more helpful for e better world. When influenced by pessimism, we wallow in fear that things will always turn out wrong.

My observations at my middle school are that people are influenced greatly by peer pressure. It seems that fear is driving them to do things they wouldn't normally do and exclude those who do not agree with their choices. Hope is what drives others to see past this childish standpoint and move on to greater things.

In a larger viewpoint, the citizens in the United States also seem to be influenced by fear of the war in Iraq and terrorism. The society is becoming less open and some believe that anyone who looks Muslim should be scrutinized and interrogated for fear of terrorism.

Racism is becoming a big problem in our country. The beauty of the U.S. is that it is so diverse and no one apart from Native Americans originated here so, we are a very large mixed culture, and fear is ripping up apart. There is a shine of hope though, for I believe in the good of humanity. Hope also seems to drive people further and improves the chances of better living and intensifies the burning flame in everyone to keep living and better the world for oncoming generations.

If someone has hope enough to change the world and make it a better place for our children, it can change everything. If people are consumed with fear and are too afraid to even try to make a difference, our planet and economy will perish in its own waste. Everything will be ruined and the hard work of others over the years will be for nothing.

In the end, it is only a choice whether to be a pessimist or an optimist if the Earth will experience a new beginning or a despairing end. I believe that fear can only be overcome by those who are not afraid of new challenges and try to do something amazing with their lives, for I believe that deep down, anyone is capable of greatness to make a difference in the world for many generations to come.

I think that neither hope nor fear is more important. Without either, our world is at a loss. Without fear we as humans would be far too arrogant and feel superior to each other so in the end, this race would be destroyed. Without hope, we would wallow in only fear, and death would consume our souls to be empty vessels with only darkness keeping us alive in a withered existence.

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