2006 — 7th Grade 3rd Place

Saritha Ramakrishna, Arizona

Fear is the festering plague of our earth, the manipulative spirit that controls your mind, and seeps into the darkest corners of our subconscious. Hope is the light of the human race, the joy we feel, and the only pure quality in Pandora's Box, the box of humanity, the force of life, and of truth. Which is more powerful? This cannot be truly answered. This is because when you fear, hope will be defeated, and when you discover hope your fear diminishes. But I believe fear is the most powerful, the psychological hell that brings people to insanity, agony and death, over hope because hope is simply desperate lunacy. Fear will control people and make them commit atrocities. It is primal nature, of humans and animals.

What is fear? It is a sensation our own subconscious creates to warn us of peril? Or is it something more? I feel fear is our instinct. When in a terrible situation, of starvation, pain or death, fear consumes us, possesses us like a malevolent demon. But perhaps I don’t know what fear is. I have only felt a child's fear, the inconsistent fear of the unreal. So that's what makes it so powerful. Because when I stood shaking at my parents doorway at a young age, I felt desperate, I had shed many tears over some idiotic "terror" but it wasn’t even authentic fear. And that is then fear that mutates mankind into merciless killers.

Humans have contemplated fear for centuries. It appears in many literary works, especially Roshomon, by Ryonusuke Akutagawa. In this story a samurai servant, afraid of starvation and death, battles within himself to be an honest man or a thief, or worse, a murderer. Fear drove him to be the latter. Hope may drive someone to fight on but only fear can ensnare the mind so cunningly and deceitfully to enable us to survive in the most perilous situations. That is the strength of fear.

History is filled with fear, desperation. The world is fueled by fear and our deadly cruel human nature, the fear of dying. The holocaust is especially rank with the stench of fear. An example as old as perhaps human existence is war. War twists people into deranged monstrosities, because of their fear of death and loss. Perhaps a more recent example is the genocide, or ethnic cleansing in Rwanda. It was a horrific crisis, inhuman and fearful.

So why not hope? Why discard one of the only feelings that is unique to our species? Because hope is not real. Patrick Henry quotes "…the delusive phantom of hope…" the feeling of hope fades. Fear stays, and haunts you in your darkest hours. This is why fear may conquer hope.

Fear is a forever amorphous, manipulative creature. Hope is truth and all the good in the world. Humans' lives are based upon fear. And hope is just an escape route, a desperate delusion. Fear can control people; it plays on humans' will to live. So which is more powerful, fear or hope? To me the definite answer is unknown, but fear holds life in a cold, catastrophic grip and is the most powerful in my opinion.

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