2006 — 7th Grade 2nd Place
Chris Okawa, Arizona
Often, my friends or family speak of hope
and fear. "We're hoping for a miracle!", I am afraid
we will lose." But what do the concepts of hope and fear
really mean? Which is more powerful, hope or fear?
In every human mind, there is an aspect of fear. From the moment
we take our first breath, fear is a protective mechanism. It comes
with physiological changes such as rise in heart beat or surge
of adrenaline which provide the fuel necessary for our "fight
or flight' response. Fear is an instinct that can be that tiny
voice or the hair standing up on the back of your neck. It can
be a "feeling" you have or an instinct that someone
or something is watching you, waiting to pounce.
The experience of fear can be very powerful. It can make people
act crazy and can create mass hysteria. In many ways, however,
fear can be healthy. For example, it would be a natural instinct
to avoid an assailant. Fear can be paralyzing and limit your experience
of life. Fear can rule your life and destroy it. Because I believe
fear to be an instinct, I consider it to be an inexorable truth
of being human.
By contrast, I believe that hope is a mystical facet of the human
spirit. It is not necessarily an instinct, but a feeling. Hope
is having faith and trust in something; to wish for something
and have confidence in its fulfillment.
In order to feel hope, one must overcome fear. Without freedom
from fear, hope may weaken. I believe that fear is dependent on
the destruction of hope. Hope is often more subtle in its work,
but never any less powerful. People can gain hope from religious
conviction, personal experience, or from the support of those
surrounding them. Whatever the source, we need hope to flourish
in the stressful environment of everyday life. It is even more
essential in extraordinary circumstances, such as terminal illness.
Hope is a life force that is essential to situations where it
is most unlikely. Here, Emily Dickinson describes hope:
Hope is a thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without words
And never stops at all.
I believe in this poem. I have seen the power of hope and I believe
it can triumph over fear. My friend Haley struggled with Leukemia
for seven of her nine years of life. Every day, she was afraid
to some degree, but hope is what kept her alive. Hope for a healthy
body and a life free from pain. Her hope was felt throughout our
community as we raised funds for her, wore bracelets that bore
her name, and hoped for a miracle. Ultimately, she lost her battle,
but none the less, she was the strongest person I have ever known.
Hope made her strong. My experience with Haley taught me that
hope has immense power. Hope has the power to unite, to inspire,
and to overcome fear. Hope can make us better people. Because
of Haley I will not allow fear to rule my life, but will instead
hope for the best that I can imagine.
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