2004 — 5th Place — 7th Grade

Jane Annadora Ball, Louisiana

War or Peace?
Is world peace possible or does human nature make war inevitable?

There are many reasons humans fight including freedom, safety and self-survival. Even toddlers fight for toys, food, and attention as part of their natural being. It is a part of our nature, then, to show some aggression, sometimes violence, as we also see in the animal world.

From ages 5-8, I was a Pink Power Ranger until I outgrew my costume. I also took karate lessons at the same time. everyday, I would watch the Power Rangers show and practice a few kicks and chops. My mom caught grief from well-meaning family and friends who thought the show was too violent, but because they had never watched it, they missed its true meaning.

Just like my school, the cast was a mixture of different races, nationalities and sexes, yet all were drawn together as a team whose common goals were excellence and fairness, and they like and respected each other.

At my dojo, as on the show, we were taught to always use our minds first to settle any disagreements, then to use force only as a last resort. If we practice peace on an individual level, perhaps it can be achieved globally although, often, fighting must precede a peaceful existence.

Other children have teased and hurt me since I was 5 because I have very poor vision, and was the first child in my class to wear glasses. I survived all the insults and mean words and actions, by resisting the first urge - to fight back out of revenge.

But my "ranger" training allowed me to fight back on a higher level - on a peaceful level. For example, if I couldn't read the blackboard, I would ask someone who had said something mean to me, without making any reference to their previous insults, to please read me the homework assignment. This made them become a kinder, more peaceful, and more respectful person.
Team sports are another great way to turn aggressive behavior into a positive, competitive experience. I play on multiple basketball teams composed of both urban and suburban girls, yet when we are on the court, we forget about our differences and we unite for our common goal - to win.

We practice, play, travel and room together. We enjoy playing as a team and have a great time on or off the court. I am sure that athletes from many different countries become better people and make world-wide friendships when they compete in the Olympics, and learn about others. This is a wonderful way to help achieve world peace.

If everyone could learn to use their power of reasoning first - they could alter their human nature. It isn't easy - like karate, Power Ranger training, or sports, it takes lots of practice and hard work, but it is achievable. Two thousand years ago, the Roman philosopher and statesman Cicero said, "let war yield to peace, laurels to paeans."

If we begin to be peaceful on a personal level, it can spread to the national, then world level. While it is within our nature to fight, and because we are not animals, we can also resist the first urge of violence. Our minds remain the most powerful weapons for war or peace.

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