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Everyone for a Peaceful World
by Miki Nagatomo
Miyazaki Minami High School, Miyazaki Prefecture
Messages of Peace from Chiran
13th Annual Speech Contest, 2002
Honorable Mention, High School Division

What is "peace"?

I think peace is people being able to live happily without war. When I tried looking up the definition in the dictionary, it said, "a society living in calm without war."

Large-scale wars like World War I and World War II have ended, and many people should have learned about the tragedy of war and the importance of peace.

However, as everyone knows, in the world there are still many areas where wars have not ended. Tension about the Palestinian problem has increased again recently. Also, talk has arisen that war may start regarding the Kashmir issue. Now there are many countries that have nuclear power, and fears have arisen that this will cause large-scale damage if war starts.

Everyone in the world wants peace. Even so, why do people repeat wars? Why do people who have learned about the horrors of war pretend not to notice the wars happening in various places around the world? Why don't they try to stop them? There are also many people in the world who are working to try to stop wars. However, aren't there perhaps many people who pretend not to notice them?

Are you ignoring them?

Before now many people hoped wars would end. Japan suffered damage from atomic bombs during World War II, and our country pledged to renounce war, knowing the importance of peace. I think it is really great being born in this country that pledged to renounce war. Therefore, shouldn't we who live in Japan promote the importance of peace in the world and not ignore conflicts? Shouldn't we tell people in the world about the horror of war and the terror of atomic bombs?

Mother Theresa, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, says that the opposite of love is indifference.

Everyone, since now globalization is increasing, shouldn't we try to have love and concern for people of the world?

First, isn't it necessary for Japan to learn from the wars it has been involved in and for people to reflect on the wars that have happened up to now? Also, isn't it important to know about the conflicts currently happening in various regions of the world? I think we can see gradually what we need to do by learning about these things.

Until recently, I had hardly any interest in conflicts happening in the world. I did not know about them. The reason, embarrassing to me, was that I thought that now there were hardly any wars in the world. However, one day I happened to notice a photo book called Totto-Chan's Children: A Goodwill Journey to the Children of the World, and I learned about the many people now throughout the world who suffer from malnourishment and look like skeletons. Also, I could not forget the pleading eyes of these people in the photos, so I investigated the reasons why such a thing could happen. I found out for the first time that many wars are still happening even now in the world. I was very shocked.

Therefore, being concerned, I began to learn by attending various lectures, making sure to watch the news and read the newspapers, and investigating NGO activities by the Internet. There are still many things I do not know. However, as I learned various things, I gradually realized there are things I personally should do.

I talked together with my friends, and first we will try to donate to organizations working for international cooperation, such as the Red Cross. We will get funds to donate by collecting aluminum cans and exchanging them for money, and we will collect telephone cards, unused stamps, and miswritten postcards to get refunds. Also, we are investigating and thinking about the conflicts occurring in the world.

I have no power to stop the wars happening in the world. However, I thought surely there is something I can do to promote peace.

Someone told me this the other day, "War is born inside a person's heart. People must construct a fortress of peace within their hearts."

A peaceful world is not something that can be naturally created. It is made by our hands.

Everyone, let's cooperate and create a peaceful world desired by every person.

Translated by Bill Gordon
September 2004