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Life and Peace
by Eri Nakahara, 9th Grade
Chosa Junior High School, Kagoshima Prefecture
Messages of Peace from Chiran
13th Annual Speech Contest, 2002
Honorable Mention, Junior High School Division

"Bullying," "suicide," and "murder." These words, not disappearing, are reported daily in newspapers and on TV. On August 15, 1945, the end of World War II, it was expected that Japan could finally achieve peace. Why are even now many lives being lost?

We were not directly involved in the war. It has been a peaceful time from when we were born, and this peaceful era will most likely continue. We live in an age when peace is taken for granted. However, for this reason, could it be that we hardly recognize the importance of peace?

The number of murder cases has been increasing rapidly for the past several years. I think this is related to advancement in the development of machines.

For example, PCs and cellular phones have spread to many homes, and this has allowed many people to send e-mails and participate in electronic chats. With e-mails and chat sessions, friendships are formed that are many times more shallow than meeting others in person, and selfish imaginary  images are formed of other people since they cannot be seen. In such situations, I think a person will be disappointed if he or she meets the other person, and in the worst case it can be connected with murders. This is by no means impossible. The reason is that when people are disappointed they can be hurt more in comparison to a situation where they do not have certain expectations. Also, they cannot even be kind to another person since there is a shallow relationship. In such a situation, whatever may happen is not strange.

As a more familiar example, one can mention the fact that the influence of computer games is strong. Today there are many realistic games, and among these the ones where a player destroys people are especially popular. In the past I encountered young elementary school children absorbed in playing games on display at a shopping center, and they were screaming, "Look, look, you die! Fast!" Even such small children easily say, "you die." They cannot even realize that these are bad words they should not say. Moreover, when considering easily influenced children, I think that saying "you die" and "I will kill you" within the realm of games will also become part of real life. They do not have any concern about a person's death.

Can it really be said there is "peace" in such a world? Is it really good for things to be this way? 

Through Japan's constitution, I think one can say that war was eliminated forever and it passed away completely. But afterward, as society became more materially well-off, didn't more frightening, more tragic, ugly things come into being?

Disappointments that occur from not knowing the other person well and having a superficial friendship. The phrase "you die" that comes out unintentionally when playing games. Parents who, even though they have children, do not take care of them and simply abandon them. Bullying that does not hurt the body at all but rips a person's spirit to shreds.

We are living in such an age. We do not have an attitude toward others like in the war such that we would give up our own lives for our country and disregard our feeling of wanting to live. We simply are taking away the lives of others since we have self-centered thinking that considers ourselves and our own circumstances.

More so than war, we must quickly eliminate terrifying "self-centered murders" without any delay. Therefore, we first must realize the importance of peace by thinking about what is proper. Also, we must live knowing the preciousness of life and showing mutual respect.

Since peace cannot be created simply through words and appearances, we must construct true peace by each one of us having caring hearts and cultivating peace by our own efforts.

Translated by Bill Gordon
August 2005