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Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more;
but they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree, and none shall make them afraid.
-- Micah 4:3-4

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Friends of Adin Ballou
Peace Essay Contest

2013 Essay Contest Winners

First Prize:
What Is Peace?
by Jeanelle Wheeler

We may not agree on exactly what peace is, but one thing's clear -- we need it. We need peace to be a verb, a noun, and an adjective -- we need to make peace, have peace, and be peaceful -- in our homes, communities, and our world at large. World peace is the ultimate wish of most, but what does it really mean? Is it the absence of war and violence? Yes, but it is also the cultivation of a compassionate, respectful society.

Often the rallying cries for "world peace" are dismissed as an unattainable, unrealistic utopian ideal. Though conflict is inevitable, the visionaries of our world would argue that peace is not only possible, but imperative. History is too often depicted as a succession of bloody battles forged by ruthless aristocrats. In reality, however, it is a product of those who cried out against injustice and labored for peace. Well-known figures like Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. successfully wielded the power of non-violence. Additionally, ordinary citizens have dissented as abolitionists (like Adin Ballou), as unionists, as protesters, and as activists, shaping our world, not with weapons, but with words, ideas, and movements. Being a peacemaker means being true to yourself and offering your gifts to the community. It means loving everyone. And it means knowing that not only is peace a verb, noun, and adjective, but it is real. Peace can be attained if we, like those before us, work for it. We have to.

Second Prize:
Peaceful Expression
by Maia Hibbett

"The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause,
while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one."
J. D. Salinger

A peaceful environment is not necessarily one that is always tranquil and free of conflict, but rather one that is cohesive - one that works. Therefore, peace means not necessarily the absence of all violence and negative sentiments, but rather an acceptance of existing circumstances and the ability to live and work despite them.

Accepting given conditions does not correlate to doing nothing to change them. The push for change can, and should, exist within peace, simply in a non-aggressive manner. For years, artists and writers have expressed their dissatisfaction through their works while still allowing the world around them to keep turning in harmony. Pablo Picasso, for example, illustrated with his famous painting Guernica the effect of German bombing during the Spanish Civil War. In doing so, he recognized a problem and tackled it without the use of aggression. Similarly, J.D. Salinger addressed skewed values and judgments of society in his satirical novel The Catcher in the Rye. Through his character, Holden Caulfield, he expressed his disdain for society and its relationship with adolescents without taking hasty or extreme action.

In my opinion, peace is the ability to do just that: observe where problems lie and point out the need for change with calm acceptance rather than violent raucous. The "fight for peace" contradicts itself.


Guernica by Pablo Picasso

Third Prize:
Peace is Love
by Robby Aziz

Peace is defined as a state of harmony free from fear and violence. As Mahatma Gandhi led his peaceful protest against the British, I too wish to bring peace to my community. Peace is attained through actions that refute negativity and immoral behavior deemed unethical. I would stand by one teaching that has grown through almost every human: love. By treating individuals and the environment surrounding me with love continually, I will successfully keep peace. Gandhi's love for India and his fellow man gave him great triumph in achieving a more peaceful life for Indians. Love is compassion and gratitude towards the actions, positive or negative, of our peers; love is taking care of our properties, our land, and our world. By participating in acts of love, I will, as Gandhi, lead a protest solely for the sake of peace.

Countries such as my own, Egypt, are all searching for this same peace we all long for; as a member of society, in order to return the peace to such a massive revolution is by showing my love towards all Egyptians, Christian or Muslim, and by respecting the land they call home. Love is a way of life, and to keep peace, love must be attained by all individuals including myself. What will I do for peace? I will, as Christ tells us, "Love your neighbor as yourself" (Mark 12:31).

Third Prize:
Peace
by Demetri Chokshi-Fox


"Freedom from desire leads to inner peace." -- Lao Tse

True peace is fleeting; lasting peace is impossible. Close your eyes for a moment or two, and remember the last time you were at peace: when you were truly content with yourself and your surroundings. You can't remember an exact moment, can you? Neither can I. Society, since before we were even out of the womb, has been conditioning us to want, to need, to be uncontent. What does advertising do? What was the purpose of the Coke commercial that you just watched earlier? To make you want a Coke. Consider what a lifetime of this effect, duplicated for every advertisement you have ever seen, does to the psyche. It feeds an addiction, a dependency on artificially created needs, wants, and desires. The shopaholics among us are just the ones more prone to the symptoms of the addiction. Why did I just buy that American Eagle shirt? So I can look "better" for someone else? This is not peace. We are not at peace.

Nirvana, according to the Oxford Dictionary, is "a transcendent state in which there is neither suffering, desire, nor sense of self..." This is peace. This is freedom from desire. When there is no desire, there is no clashing desire, and hence, no conflict. To achieve peace, I will personally work to transcend desire. I will strive for a simple life, as Adin Ballou did in his utopian community. I will achieve personal peace, and hence invite my fellow man to do the same. Peace out.

Honorable Mention:
What I Will Do for Peace
by Arianna Bonito

Peace is more than just the absence of war. It is also the creation of conditions associated with the ethics that promote harmony. It requires purpose joined with action. The size of your action is not important; but your motivation to act is everything, so live by example. The first step of bringing peace is making peace with yourself. How can you expect to do anything in the name of peace if you are constantly at war with yourself? "Love thy neighbor as thyself" (Mark 12:31). Forgive and forget; no matter what comes around remember that life's too short to dwell The world is a selfish place and no one is perfect. To ease the tension of a harsh future, I will do my part, helping not only the less fortunate, but also myself in hopes that someday, I may be able to pass on what I have learned about the world and myself to the next generations. Kofi Annan says "there is no trust more sacred than the one the world holds with children. There is no duty more important than ensuring that their rights and welfare is protected, that their lives are free from fear and want and that they grow up in peace." As human beings, we have the right and privilege to pursue happiness and live free in peace. We are in charge of personifying that five-letter word. We are the future of peace; I am and will be peace.

Honorable Mention:
Simplicity Is Sublime
by Aislyne Calianos

Recalling a time of adversity is a simple matter. Perhaps this is why the world is so full of it; historically, adversity has always been a means to achieve glory. Great warriors from countless ancient civilizations -- the Romans, the Mayans, the Native Americans -- carried scars from battle to prove their worthiness of power. This trend continues into the modern era. Some of our greatest heroes are soldiers, men who are brave enough to risk their lives to save many. Perhaps, if more emphasis is placed on the glory of a time of peace, the need for fighters to readily give up their lives will be less. A simple step towards this peacefulness is the recognition of the beauty in the simplest of things; recognition of the sublime beauty of quiet acts of peace is the first step towards a peaceful existence. This is something I can do.

An act of peace could be something as small as giving a smile, a helping hand, or a listening ear to someone in need. Friends, family members, and strangers alike all have their own personal struggles to deal with. Perhaps by uplifting them and demonstrating how peace can be sought with ease, others will then be more inclined to do the same. A chain of straightforward peaceful actions could eventually grow to a size so great that it could not be ignored. Through unity, we may all eventually be able to see past our scars and appreciate the peace that lies just ahead, waiting to be discovered.