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Thinking About Peace
by Ayaka Tanaka, 7th Grade
Chiran Junior High School, Kagoshima Prefecture
Messages of Peace from Chiran
13th Annual Speech Contest, 2002
Third Prize, Junior High School Division

Everyone, what do you think "peace" is?

Last summer I did research about UNICEF in my general studies course at school. The simple reason for thinking to investigate this was that I wanted to know something about UNICEF. UNICEF is the United Nations Children's Fund, which primarily engages in various support activities for disadvantaged children.

When doing research, I found out that currently one child in the world dies every three seconds.

I did not know even a little about such a world. I always eat morning, noon, and night, and I can sleep soundly. That happy life is natural in Japan, but it is not common in other countries. It has turned into such a world.

I became very sad. And from this I began to think seriously whether there isn't anything else we can do.

In the beginning I did not have much interest in peace, but while doing research during my general studies time I started to think a lot about whether there was something I could do. And since we learned from those around us about the many unfortunate people in the world, we decided to do fund raising and try starting quickly. Also, we gave a presentation about what we researched in general studies so others would know about our ideas.

I collected money with my class friends in front of the Tomiya Restaurant Museum. Being my first time, I quickly lost my voice due to my shyness, but afterward I recovered my voice when I thought about wanting to aid many people. The reason I wanted to do fund raising was because every day lives of disadvantaged children in the world were being lost. Although only being one person, if the lives of many were helped, then I thought I would be working toward peace.

However small, if we make people happy, that is something that works toward peace. Even so, wars between people still occur. The lives of people involved in them are being lost. It is very regrettable that good people die.

War is not happening in Japan, but I think even in Japan there are people who try to change people's feelings by military force. People's feelings cannot be changed by force. When people in the world do not understand this, I think the reality of many lives being lost through war will not disappear.

Through my studies, I feel like I came to learn the meaning of a phrase that had been on my mind from before. That saying on my mind was the following,  "Japan is a rich country, so we can do things." It sounded cool when I heard it from my friends. I did not think about it any more than that, but through what I learned in peace studies, I found out today's meaning for this saying, "It is good that we have been born in a rich country. Not only that, we can live for other countries." In only one world. In a place where several billion people are living. Since I also have been born in this world, I must support others and understand their viewpoints. If we can have mutual understanding with people near us, then as that grows, the people on this planet called Earth can understand their neighbors.

Everyone, what do you think "peace" is?

I think it is a world filled with everybody's smiling faces. Even if impossible now, I surely hope someday there will be a world full of smiles.

That is my hope for "peace."

Translated by Bill Gordon
September 2004