High School Winning Essays 2016

First Place: The Lesson of Peace

by Hannah Ballowe, gr. 9, St. Catherine’s school, Richmond

I can remember walking through the woods in my backyard when I was younger. At the back of our property, there was a holly tree. It was not very tall and it drooped, much like a willow tree. The green leaves cascaded outward like a waterfall, and created an enclosed oasis. It was my own personal getaway, and I use to love to spend time sitting there. I would crawl under the leaves and lean against the tree’s thin yet sturdy trunk. The sun threw patterns of light across the ground in front of me and across my face. Beyond the tree, a little further back on our property was a little creek. As I would sit there, usually pretending with my friends that we were part of a secret world like in Bridge to Terabithia, or playing hide and seek, I would stop and listen to the bubbling of the creek and watch the birds flit around. It offered a sense of peace. The bubbling noises and birdsongs took my mind off of everything. As a kid, I was always active; I still am. There was never a time that I was not doing something, so when I was outside, under the tree, it was one of the only times I could just relax. I learned at a young age to be observant of the harmony and peace in nature.

I think I learned a lot from nature. Everything in my woods, from the babbling creek to the singing birds, was in its own way peaceful. You never see birds or other animals waging wars that lead to catastrophic loss and widespread death. They do not gather their troops and prepare bombs for nuclear warfare. Yes, they do fight, and this can be seen while in the woods, or even at a zoo, but there is no species that can be expected to be entirely peaceful and humans certainly are not.  People keep saying that we are the smartest and most advanced species, but if that’s the truth, then why do we constantly revert back to fighting each other time and time again? If we were truly the most intelligent species, then we would not have to learn simple lessons in peacemaking from animals with whom we cannot even communicate. Instead, we would learn from our own past mistakes, and then would not make them again. The natural world continues to teach us the same lesson over and over again, yet we never seem to retain the information it offers. If I, even as a young child, can be observant enough to realize the serenity and peace that nature offers, then, as an intelligent and evolved race, we should be able to realize the fatal mistake we are making. We should be able to learn from both that mistake and, more importantly, from the natural world around us.

People have always looked to nature for answers and peace, ever since the first  humans. In ancient times, ascetics would retreat into the woods seeking peace and clarity. They would spend all of their time in solitude. These ascetics were correct about the fact that many answers can be found in nature, but while they were able to gain their individual knowledge, the human race has yet to learn this lesson collectively. There is a difference between learning individually, which is easier, and learning collectively. Even more, there is a difference between simply learning and practicing what we have learned.  Nature provides not only answers to questions, but also examples of peace and harmony. These examples are there for us to observe, and we simply have to look for them. They can be found predominately in the ecosystems that work together to achieve their harmony. However, with harmony and balance comes discord and imbalance. The fragility of these ecosystems must be acknowledged as well. Simple human actions can throw the alignment and balance out of order easily, which is something else we have yet to learn.

As a species, we are notoriously bad at learning from our past mistakes. After being around for millions of years, we have not really learned much from nature, besides how to harvest and destroy it. It’s sad, really, that the lesson we need to learn so desperately is right in front of us and has been since the beginning of time, and yet, we neglect to learn it. While the natural world has many lessons to offer, the most important one that we have to learn can be learned by the harmonious and peaceful examples set by many creatures. We, as an entire human race, must learn to listen to the world around us and to respect the delicate balance in which it is suspended. But most importantly, we must learn to coincide peacefully, both with each other and with nature.

 

Second Place:  Learning Peacemaking from Nature

by Tahja Steward, gr. 11, Open HS, Richmond Public Schools

If you take a look outside, you might see a bee buzzing over to a flower to get nectar. The bee gets nectar from the flower to make honey and the bee spreads pollen from flower to flower, allowing it to reproduce. If you get a chance to look into the ocean, you might even be lucky enough to see a clownfish and a sea anemone working together in peace. The sea anemone provides a home for the clownfish and the clownfish cleans it as well as lures other fish to it, so that it can eat. These are examples of mutualism in nature. When two different species work together because they can provide each other with something beneficial. There are also relationships in which only one animal benefits and another remains neutral, which is known as commensalism. Another, parasitism, is a relationship when one organism benefits and the other is harmed. This parasitic relationship can be seen frequently in nature, but mainly in humans.

Humans are considered nature’s most social animals. We communicate with each other in ways that no other animal can. We have the ability to express ourselves in a plethora of ways; in ways that many other animals aren’t capable of. Since we are great communicators, we should be able to get the things we need in a way that isn’t harmful to others. Yet, we hurt others to get what we need. Robbery is something that occurs in many communities leading to loss, injury, or even death. We humans rob each other to help ourselves, directly and indirectly. Many rich corporations underpay their workers drastically, robbing them for their labor. We live in a parasitic society, where in order for one person to benefit the other is harmed.

However, if we, as humans, learned from the many examples of plants and animals living together at peace .we could be at peace as well. Achieving harmony within our community is easier than humans may think. For example, the atlantic puffin uses the burrows previously made by rabbits in the area for nesting. The puffin benefits from something that the rabbit provided. This example of commensalism can be achieved by humans too. If more employment opportunities can be provided in underserved communities, the community can benefit without anyone getting harmed. We can also achieve this by making welfare more accessible for those who need it. This way these communities can get what they need peacefully. Even mutualism can be accomplished. If we increase wages, workers will be paid what they deserve to be paid and that will encourage more people to work for that company. Both entities benefit, just like the oxpecker and the zebra. The oxpecker gets protection from the zebra, as well as a meal from eating the insects. The zebra relaxes and gets “pest control.”

Nature can teach us many lessons if we pay close attention and are willing to apply them to our situation. Peace can be achieved if we all cooperate and think about how everyone can benefit and not just ourselves. If we do, then we can live in a more mutualistic society.

 

Third Place (tie): Peace Through Pairs

by Gracie Caplice, gr. 9, St. Catherine’s school, Richmond

The clownfish and sea anemone are obligatory symbionts. This means they rely on each other for survival. The symbiosis between the two animals is achieved in many ways, mainly for exchange of protection. The sea anemone’s tentacles have stingers that are used to capture prey and scare off predators. Many fish will try to eat the tentacles of the anemone, but the stingers keep the clownfish away. In the return, the anemone does not sting the clownfish, but instead provides protection from other animals. In the chance the clownfish does get stung, both the clownfish and anemone have created a mucus layer around the fish that provides protection. In return for the anemone’s barrier, the clownfish provides cleaning, nutrients and scares away predatory fish such as the butterfly fish.

The plover bird and crocodile are another example of symbionts. They are a very unusual pair of animals for many reasons. The crocodile is a carnivore, meaning it eats many animals living in and out of the water. The plover bird lives by the water and flies in groups. The crocodile tends to sit in the sun with its mouth open. When a plover bird sees this, it lands in the crocodile’s mouth and eats the food from between it’s teeth. By doing this, the plover bird receives food and the crocodile gets its teeth cleaned.  This keeps the crocodile’s mouth is free from infections and often completes the clover bird’s diet. The crocodile could easily eat the plover bird, but doesn’t.

Over time the shark and remora fish have created a symbiotic relationship. Remora fish are between one and three feet. They have an organ that acts as a suction cup on the top of their head. They use it to latch onto a passing shark. The remora then eats remainders of prey and parasites off the shark. This allows the shark to stay clean and healthy, and it provides food, protection, and a ride through the ocean for the remora. In studies, sharks have been seen to slow down in waters or even risk their life to let remoras latch on.

Ostriches and zebras have created a symbiotic relationship with each other. Both ostriches and zebras are often in the position of prey to other animals. Because of this, they will team up for protection. Zebras have great eyesight, but not an excellent sense of smell, while ostriches have amazing sense of smell, but not as great eyesight. Together they are stronger than when alone, so they group together for more protection.

In all four of these symbiotic relationships, the two animals have learned to put aside their differences and create peace with one another. In the relationship of the clownfish and sea anemone, the sea anemone could easily hurt the clownfish, but because it has learned to trust the clownfish, it is able to give and receive protection and other services. The clownfish also learns to trust that the anemone won’t sting it. In the relationship of the plover bird and crocodile, the plover bird is very trusting. This is because with one snap of it’s mouth, the crocodile could eat the bird whole. The crocodile knows not to eat the plover bird because the bird is providing the crocodile health and cleanliness. The plover bird is very courageous to do this. The shark and remora fish have a very similar relationship. The remora fish puts it’s life at stake every time it clings onto the shark. The shark does not hurt the fish because it prevents the shark from parasites and bacteria. Both animals have created a trusting relationship with each other. Unlike the other three symbiotic relationships, the ostrich and zebra are not likely to hurt one another. Instead they work together to create better protection from prey. Both animals have a common goal and trust the other animal to keep them safe.

In the symbiotic relationships, peace is created in even the most unlikely pairs. As Lyndon Johnson says, “Peace is a journey of a thousand miles and it must be taken one step at a time.” I believe Johnson is right when he says peace does not come easily and takes time. In all four of the symbiotic relationships, the peace of the animals does not automatically happen, it takes time and effort for both animals to be able to live in harmony together. I think this is true for humans too. Peace is not something that will simply come, it must be worked for. All four symbiotic relationships had one main idea in common. That was the idea of trust. Without trust, none of the relationships would be possible. With the trust the animals have for each other, they are able to create peace.

Humankind has not created peace with one another. I think the only way for this to happen is by recognizing that there are peaceful relationships in the world even if we don’t see them everyday. Peace will not come to us wrapped in a present, but must be created through trusting one another. Trust must be honored and unbroken. By trusting each other, I believe one day we will be able to live in tranquility and peace.

 

Third Place (tie): Unusual Animal Relationships: Setting an Example for Society

by Bronwyn Mitchell, gr. 9, St. Catherine’s School

Mutualism is “a mutually beneficial association between different kinds of organisms” (Merriam-Webster). Examples of mutualistic relationships in nature are oxpeckers and rhinos, oxpeckers and zebras, and pilot fish and sharks. Each symbiont provides a service in return for something beneficial to their own well-being. Mutualistic relationships often seem strange. An oxpecker, for example, is roughly the size of a rhino’s horn. With a size difference this dramatic, no one would think an oxpecker and rhino to be friends. However, their lives would be very different without each other. An oxpecker eats ticks and parasites off of the rhino. In exchange for food, it provides a form of pest control. Oxpeckers also offer a warning for when danger is near. The pair does not allow their evident differences to keep them from working as a system. Likewise, pilot fish keep sharks healthy by eating parasites, and in return they receive protection from predators. Pilot fish demonstrate a great amount of trust by swimming into the mouth of a shark. Why would they make a trade where they receive protection, when the counterpart could easily eat them? It is because the shark needs the favor that the pilot fish provides. Animals set a great example of working together that everyone can learn from.

What if the oxpecker gave up on the rhino, or pilot fish left the shark to fend for itself? They would be negatively affecting both their counterpart’s life and their own. An oxpecker would not have any food to eat. Similarly, if a pilot fish left the shark, it would easily get killed by another larger fish. People mistake mutualistic relationships as two animals using each other for their own needs; however, the animals develop a deeper relationship. Stories have been told about sharks getting caught by fisherman, where the pilot fish swim alongside the ship for up to six weeks.

In today’s society, siblings can be a lot like symbionts. As infants, my siblings and I did not have much of a relationship. I just knew them as the people I saw everyday. Our interactions did not go much beyond fighting over a toy or the occasional hug, but I knew they were different than all of my other friends on the playground. During our middle years of childhood, our relationships grew, but we were constantly fighting. As of today, the time we spend arguing is less than it used to be, and I can honestly call them my friends. While our relationships have not always been as strong as they are now, I have always known my siblings are there to support me. Like a mutualistic relationship, our bond has grown over the years and expanded past being an association simply because we are related. As time has passed, more people have recognized my siblings and me as friends as opposed to assuming that our relationship is forced.

On a larger scale, mutualistic relationships are similar to allies. Each group helps the other by providing support in various ways, and their relationship grows over time. Every time one country assists another, the trust between the two countries strengthens. Today, the United States, for example, has many allies. Our allies include Germany, Australia, France, Japan, Mexico, and many other countries. We can rely on them to help in situations of struggle and offer the same dependency. So, if the United States can be allies with so many countries, why are there still countries whom we are not allies with?

Many people have devoted their time to figure out why there is something scary about reaching out to people who are different than us, but they have not been able to find an answer. However, as demonstrated by mutualistic symbionts, we do know that animals are very accepting of differences. We are more advanced than animals, but we cannot think of a way to work together with people who are drastically different than us. Many have searched to come up with a solution to this issue, but maybe the solution comes from not thinking about our differences and returning to our accepting human nature.

I believe our society can learn from mutualism to strengthen relationships and make everyone an ally. Everyone is different; however, that does not go-to-say we cannot accept people for their differences. It is important that we look past our differences and start working as a team. The world is not like an individual sport. In order to be successful, everyone must work together.

 

Honorable Mentions:

Buzzy Workers

by Claire Bowes, gr. 9, St. Catherine’s School, Richmond

While often only thought about for their pricking sting, most people do not know that bees live in a eusocial community, a cooperative group in which usually one female and several males are reproductively active and the nonbreeding individuals care for the young or protect and provide for the group. Bees, although small, have an intricate system of living and working. They exist in a large family underneath their queen, each having its own personal role in contributing to the society.

Bees are categorized into three main social classes: workers, queens, and drones. The workers in the community do what is called “the dance of bees”. This is where the honey bees move in a particular sequence to indicate the exact location of the food to all of the other workers. The queen bee leads the community and runs the beehive while drones are male mates for the queen. Typically the queen has a long body and a curved stinger. Bees nest in trees and collaborate to create a community together. The workers, while only living for a short period of time, are in charge of collecting pollen and nectar. They create honeycombs to store pollen and nectar. The worker bees protect and circulate air throughout the beehive. By spreading their wings and fanning air they are able to circulate air. The drones have no stingers and do not do any work whatsoever. The sole purpose of a drone bee is to mate with the queen.

Throughout my research on peace I found that nature is the exact definition. Many aspects of a bee’s community can represent peace. For example their eusocial community. What is amazing about a eusocial society is that any individual is willing at any moment in time to sacrifice themselves or their best personal interests for the better of the overall group or community. The worker bees specifically are dedicated to protecting their entire community and are willing to die just for the safety of the rest of the hive. This is peace because when someone stops looking out for their own best interests and starts looking out for the entirety of the community they see the greater picture. This allows them to focus on building a harmonious community instead of fighting about the little things. In addition eusocial means taking in others that are not you own, but treating them as your own. Treating someone as your own is an important part of peace. It means accepting someone else even if they’re not your own or different from you. This lack of acceptance has caused many wars throughout history. If people were to follow this guideline there would be a greater sense of peace in the world.

Finding your specific role in society can also contribute to the well-being of the public. When people do the role that best suites them they are able to keep a community functioning which is a large section of piece. As a functioning and flowing society there is a reassurance for people that their relations are concrete. Furthermore we as people could learn respect from bees. One thing many people lack is respect for authority. While sometimes authority is corrupt, the majority of authority is not. There are many issues in authority, but they are the ones in charge and deserve respect whether you agree with their ideas or not. Bees have respect for their queen. By continuously serving her, they are actually serving their greater community.

Learning about bees and their harmonious community made me think about why humans do not live in peace.  It is very interesting to me that such small creatures have a functional society even though the insect brain is incomparable to the human brain. I often think that the ability to learn and comprehend on such a higher level effects the peace of humans. Humans’ greater capability to comprehend and make personal choices, creates such a greater area for conflict and disagreement.

 

Anthrotopia

by Madeline Brousseau, gr. 11, St. Catherine’s School, Richmond

The natural world is filled with a large variety of animals, from the smallest mouse to the largest elephant. Despite their differences, animals are able to interact peacefully during times in which both parties benefit. As the human race looks for inspiration for social progress, I believe that animal relationships at African watering holes can serve as a model for future human relationships within families, communities, and the world.

Animal relationships found in nature at watering holes in Africa can serve as the foundation for future human relations. Watering holes can be found in savannahs throughout Africa, from Nigeria above the equator to Zimbabwe in the South. At these watering holes, lions can be found peacefully drinking beside gazelles, zebras, and other game animals. If animals, whose instincts are to attack each other, can interact peacefully together, why not people? People can learn to put aside their racist, sexist, homophobic, or xenophobic beliefs during the time in which they are interacting with someone. When people interact with someone of a different race, where one feels superior, both sides should push aside these discriminating feelings and see one another on an equal level. This relationship works because both parties work peacefully to accomplish a common goal. People can recreate these relationships by learning to cooperate despite any differences that might have separate them. They can use this foundation to learn to work together towards a common goal. Relationships found between animals at African watering hole as well as in symbiosis can serve as a model for future human relationships.

The African watering hole group dynamic as well as symbiosis can serve as a model for peaceful cooperation within our families, communities, and world. Within our families, each member is unique and while these differences bring diversity into the group, they can also cause divisions. As a family unit, each member should understand and respect each other’s differences. Families should create an environment that discludes aggression and includes acceptance, inclusion, and respect. Within our communities, each member should learn to push aside beliefs that would make others uncomfortable such as racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, or ableist beliefs. Each member of a community should understand that differences are not meant to divide us and that people can become united despite differences. People can be united through common interests  or hobbies rather than common religious beliefs, ethnicity, or appearance. By encouraging unity through common interests, people are taking focus away from any differences that may have divided people in the past such as race or gender. And lastly, within our world community, each person can make an effort to learn to cooperate with others despite any pre-existing differences. Differences are not meant to divide people but they should be respected and understood. The world is a diverse place and is filled with thousands of unique groups. As a human on earth, it is our duty to become united as a species and achieve peace rather than creating violent divisions between various groups. Animals have used these ideas of cooperation for thousands of years, as seen in African watering holes and in symbiosis. As a species, humans should use peaceful animal relationships as a model for future human relations within our family, community, and world.

The natural world contains various animals species, ranging from rabbits to human beings. Within the world of animals, peaceful interaction between species exists when both parties are able to benefit. As the world looks for ideas for social progress, I believe that animal relations within African watering holes can serve as the foundation for future human relationships within our families, communities, and the world.

 

Busy Bees

by Abigail Craig, gr. 9, St. Catherine’s School, Richmond

It’s that time of year again. The flowers are blooming and the temperature is rising in Richmond. Due to our fast-growing grass, our family has been spending a large amount of time working outside on the weekends, so I have started noticing some familiar creatures, especially bees. The bees are always around, landing on the flowers and flying around my yard. They sneak up on me, scaring me more than I would like to admit. Sometimes they seem meaningless, but their arrival means summer and relaxation are closer than ever. Some people think bees are annoying little pests, but I appreciate how they work together and better our eco-system.

I think that bees are the perfect example of how humans should interact with each other. They have extraordinary social skills and parallel human behavior more than you might expect. Bees are amazing because they can communicate through dances to tell the other bees their thoughts. They know the motions that they must do to transfer a thought without using any words, a task that is hard to imagine doing everyday. For example, when trying to find a location for their new hive, they must come to a unanimous agreement. When they agree on the same place, every bee will be doing the same dance. The bees respect others’ opinions and have to pay close attention to what every bee wants. As humans, we can learn communication skills from bees.

Bees also have an incredible work ethic, not only individually, but as a community. Each bee has a different job within the hive, but they all work together toward one goal. The bees are more productive if they collaborate; a single bee could not accomplish the same amount of work by itself. Humans are the same way. While one person may be talented and productive, a group of people with a good work ethic would be even better. The United Nations has announced global goals such as ending poverty, world hunger, and achieving gender equality. One person cannot solve these problems alone. We must be united in our efforts to accomplish these objectives, not only as a country, but as a global community. If we look to bees as role models, we can produce amazing results.

Last week in Physics class, we learned that some animals can see more colors. Bees’ eyes work differently than humans’ do. Bees can see patterns on flowers, while humans can only see a single color. Flowers, to bees, look completely different than they look to me; they are more colorful and extravagant. When I learned this it surprised me because I always assumed everyone saw things the same way that I did. I never considered that there were other types of eye sight.  In a symbolic way, this means there is more to someone than what meets the eye. On the inside someone might look completely different than how you perceive them. From the outside. Someone may look fine, but they could be struggling inside. You never know what anyone is going through until you peel back their layers and look a little closer. We are prone to judge others from their appearance and our first impressions, which we do automatically. Observing someone is not bad, but we usually categorize people; we put them in boxes, and then move on. I think this is something we need to change. We should get to know others based on more than just their appearance from the outside. Just like flowers, we have more substance than what meets the eye. The difference in eyesight reminds us that not everyone has the same capability of understanding the feelings of others. Because of this, we need to recognize the challenge of being empathetic towards others and work extra hard to be kind and accepting.

Bees are advanced and complex creatures that set a great example for the rest of the world. They teach us how to interact with each other, be our best selves, and pay attention to detail. They work diligently, but still remind us of peaceful times in our lives, such as in going to the beach or a family camping trip. I think we should learn from the bees to be more tolerant and empathetic to members in our community. Everytime I look out my window or work in the yard, I get a small reminder of the things I can work on to make myself and my community a better place.

 

Oh My: Symbiosis

by Grace Lu, gr. 10, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Fairfax County

Why have organisms around the world and over the centuries fostered a sense of community in an inherently competitive environment? The most straightforward answer would be that these interspecific relationships, which occur between different species, develop out of the sheer need to survive and reproduce. Called symbiotic relationships, these interactions between species can be negative, positive, or simply have no effect. Mutualism is a type of symbiotic relationship where both of the involved organisms benefit. The most common example would be when bees pollinate flowers. The bee can grow and reproduce with energy derived from the nutrient-rich flower nectar during pollination, and the bee spreads the flower’s pollen, thus enhancing reproductive success. These types of relationships are predominant in nature, yet humanity repeatedly fails to learn these survival strategies from the surrounding world to maintain peace within a single, although divided, species.

With a closer look into mutualism, it is evident that both species act out of their own self-interest. For example, when a bee pollinates a flower, the goal is not to spread pollen and help the flower’s species to propagate and survive, but rather to feed and grow. Even so, it is important to look past this, because intentions are irrelevant when the two still develop a healthy, peaceful, beneficial, and evolving relationship. Over millions of years, flowers have evolved to be colorful and have pleasing nectar for the bees, as it attracts more of these pollinators, and thus increasing reproductive success. This accommodating relationship exhibits peacemaking qualities because the evolution for colorful flowers is compromising to both the bee’s and flower’s interests, and ends in a mutually beneficial cooperation. In fact, the benefits from this relationship is not only limited to the participants, the bee and the flower. The fruit reaped from the successful reproduction of the flower guaranteed by the bee is quite literally delicious fruit and aesthetically pleasing flowers. For us, and other mammals, this brings great pleasure and nutrients. Thus, this story of the bee and the flower shows how two distinct groups can peacefully coexist while helping a multitude of others at the same time, a concept that we, as humans, still grapple with.

It is hard to deny that we are the quintessential species. We have it all – strength, ingenuity, technology, and overwhelming intelligence. Yet, humanity still favors hate crimes against religious, political, and ethnic minorities over cooperation towards a common goal, to live in a happy and peaceful society. Perhaps our intelligence inflates our pride and prevents us from stepping back to accept and help others, whether intentionally or unintentionally. After all, the fact that we are all of the same species, unlike the bee and the flower, should be reason enough to cooperate. We are able to understand and explicitly communicate with each other, an advantage other species rarely have, but this skill has been ignored in history time after time. For example, understanding and sympathy were painfully lacking in the Holocaust, where millions of Jewish people were strategically murdered, or in the current presidential race, where candidates openly promise discrimination against immigrants. Why do we do this to ourselves? We have been observing nature for hundreds of years, yet we still cannot apply the simplest concept to our own lives – to give and you shall receive. Doling out violence only breeds anger and more violence, a vicious feedback loop. Instead, we must adapt to the needs of others, to accommodate, and then others shall be accommodating as well. Only then will true peace be observed. As silly as it may sound, the bee or flower does not act violently to get what it wants, but instead it adapts to what the other can give and both parties benefit, and many others benefit indirectly as well. This mutualistic relationship teaches us peacemaking through methods like adaption and compromise, not violence and hatred.

These lessons can be easily applied to our relationships, communities, and the world to establish peaceful interactions. For example, instead refusing to befriend a peer because of their religion or race, learn to keep an open mind and look past these shallow observations. Perhaps this one action will have many unexpected benefits, like experiencing a new culture or becoming kinder. After all, the bee and flower know nothing about the literal fruits of their success that are aiding in the survival of other species. Additionally, in place of letting one small mistake define a relationship, correct it and apologize – not being reasonably accommodating will only lead to problems that are more serious later on. If the flower had not been so accommodating towards to the bee, both species would have perished long ago. Other organisms would have also suffered as well when their fruit source disappeared. On the same note, do not let pride or grudges define everyday interactions, but learn to overcome them and accept others, because when that happens, many more people than anticipated will be helped as well. All these actions apply in personal relationships, communal relations, and world politics. These tiny acts of cooperation will one by one make the world a better and more peaceful place to live.

Mutualistic interactions are glaringly obvious in nature, and we stare at them every day when we gaze out the window. We can learn from the bees and the flowers to be helpful and accepting of each other, or we can continue down this hateful path towards self-destruction. Either way, our world cannot change course overnight, but it is our individual accepting and accommodating actions over time that will unite humanity to bring much-needed peace. These actions must be derived from dropping pride, being accepting, helping others, and most importantly, adapting to the needs of others. It is these lessons learned from nature and incorporated into your actions in the coming days, months, and years that will change the world.