2013 Peace Essay Contest First Place winner Zion Buxton

Peace Essay

Zion Buxton, gr. 11, Open High School, Richmond Public Schools


The matter of peace is not a personal one but one that finds its roots within the immediate family unit. Regardless of whether an individual agrees or rebels, his or her actions stem from the values that were taught within their household. One common value that is upheld and taught within families is the “You hit me and I hit you back” rule, better known as the “Eye for an eye” rule. Across many socio-economical back grounds, within many different cultures and people, parents are teaching their children, directly or indirectly, this rule. Local conflict and even wars have begun over this golden universal decree.Gandhi said “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind” and I believe that in order for peace to be an attainable goal, a reasonable goal, the principle of forgiveness needs to be taught within households so that children may become adults that can make the world a safer, happier, and more secure place.


Life in a ghetto, or a socially and economically debilitated area (to be politically correct), isn’t easy, and it was particularly hard for my siblings and I when we first moved into the neighborhood. With the neighborhood brawls, gang rivalries, and drive-bys, it was clear there was only one way to settle matters: violence. We knew that we had to be tough to survive and were ready to handle situations, in the way the neighborhood saw fit. Thankfully we had a mother who, having grown up in a hostile environment also, taught us that the best comebacks were love and forgiveness. We had a parent over us that believed letting go and moving on was the best way to fight an enemy. Even though my siblings and I had different personalities, me being the quiet studious one, my brother the tough fighter, and my sister the sassy hothead, we all found the capacity for compassion within ourselves and agreed to let it be a deciding factor in our decisions. If more children of troubled areas were taught and shown the power of absolution in their early stages, within their home and by their loved ones, a peaceful community would soon follow.


Because of the values I have and follow, I hope to change the world with love and tolerance. I believe that if the youth are taught the right instructions and shown the right examples, there can be more Martin Luther King Jr.s, more Nelson Mandelas, more Mahatma Gandhis, even more Bob Marleys. Even though tried and tried again, Martin Luther King Jr. is a great example of how family values can shape a person and influence them in their adult life. King’s parents taught him the wrongs of the violent world at that time and raised him in a warm, loving environment. He grew up to take racism by storm;and his most powerful weapons were forgiveness and nonviolence. He grew to become one of the most influential people of all time by not harming his opponents, but loving them. Mahatma Gandhi also had peaceful parents; his father had a job as a mediator, so he was enshrouded in a tranquil environment. His mother taught him tolerance and nonviolence. Gandhi upliftedthe principles he grew up on, altered a colonial system and founded a nation with peace, not violence. He taught his followers to forgive their oppressors instead of seeking vengeance.


Martin Luther King said that “Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.”  Spreading this attitude is the major step to spreading peace. Teaching the youth mercy over malice is the only way to make the future of the Earth promising. There is nothing wrong with teaching against passivity and it is fine to show strength and courage. What is at fault is eluding the assimilation of forgiveness within family values.