Finalist, 2004 Kids Philosophy Slam
Kim Vu, age 17
Colts Neck, NJ

Globally Diff'rent Strokes

Noted pacifist A.J. Muste once stated, "There is no way to peace; peace is the way." From the beginning of the mankind to the present day, armed conflict has been the method with which differences have been resolved. The relatively marginal disputes of our ancestors have escalated into its modern day equivalent: war. A quick glance at any high school history textbook shows that despite civilization's advancements, changes, and evolution, war seems to have become inevitable. However, through careful explanation, a refutation of counter-arguments and a reflection on personal experiences, I will show that world peace is a possible outcome.

World peace can be seen as the lack of conflicts between every nation on the planet. These conflicts arise from the desires and whims of either the governments of nations or the collective anger of their populaces. Thus, if the governments are not in conflict, and the masses that may or may not have elected them are not, neither should the nations as a whole be. Conflicts are created by the misunderstanding or fearing of the differences between each other, which is to say, in the presence of no other stressors, people would be conflict free, as conflicts are never, at their roots, internally created. As a Buddhist, I believe that the anger that fuels conflict is merely a product of the suffering that is inherent within our being on this plane of existence. However, the closer and closer you move towards nonexistence, the farther separated you are from the natural suffering, and thus no anger and no conflict. So the ideal of peace is humanly attainable in the personal sense.

A counter-argument may point out that war is inevitable because of basic human nature's view that one must do everything one can to ensure survival. However, I believe this is a flawed argument. War only seems constant, because it is a logical outgrowth of anger on a grander scale; when a majority of angry people band together to influence the engagement of a conflict, a war ensues. However, it is not the symptoms that are closer to inevitable, but rather the causes. Human nature is to escape suffering, and by inflicting suffering, one cannot expect a lack of retaliation. War intrinsically leads to only one end result: death, which means more suffering. Also, pragmatists may state that peace is an unattainable ideal. Yet even the most realistic of goals are aimed towards effecting a closer distance to an ideal.

Personally, war manifests itself on a smaller scale in its fundamental roots: the basic relationships between people. Too often, people, including myself, have found themselves at odds with close friends and family, and the conflicts seem irreconcilable. But in every case, the worst of disputes are settled when people recognize the differences in each other, and accept them. The true answer to the end of war is friendship; peace is just another realistic goal set like a rest stop towards that ideal.

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