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Desmond Ng

Student Success > Commonwealth Essay Winners 2017

The Cost Of Peace

"Si vis pacem, para bellum". This Latin saying means "if you want peace, be prepared for war". Since ancient times, humanity has always defined peace in a plethora of different perspective. Be it achieving a peace of mind and serenity in the heart and soul, or as a vital asset between nations, or maybe something integral for humanity to stand up together and face the apocalypse without differentiating our race, skin colour, or religion. In short, peace can always be achieved by anyone with smallest actions, or greatest feats.

Unfortunately, peace is not as easy as popping down to the nearest supermarket to buy our groceries, it requires pure mental and physical zeal, plus some hardwork and creativity. One must sometimes toil with their blood, sweat, tears and even their lives. Some amazing individuals, especially the late Martin Luther King Jr., went the extra mile by sacrificing himself to fight the unfair and racist segregation system in America, thus allowing his black, African American brethren and comrades to finally reside in peace with the whites. Another notable individual is Nelson Mandela, a very honourable person who fought the apartheid system in South Africa for the sovereign rights of his African people, but was jailed for almost four decades. On the other hand, some individuals, such as Gautama Buddha, sacrificed his princely life, dignity and his well-being for enlightenment of all sentient beings in the karmic circle. However, the enigma that seems to be haunting us is: what is the cost of peace?

To put it briefly, peace, like a famished and greedy beast with angry eyes, is constantly on the look-out for great empires to be gobbled up. As George Santayana said before, "one who forgets history shall repeat it again". History showed us time and time again that peace can sometimes be achieved through the downfall of an empire. For example, the loss of the Third Reich in the Second World War in 1945 marks the end of possibly the greatest e genocides due to the whims and fancies of a cruel dictator. From this, we can assume that the world is peaceful once more as the sun sets on the once glorious Nazi Germany, however, evil is as cunning and as slippery as a fox, it is always on the run to search for new terrors to befall the human race. For instance, the emergence of another totalitarian nation in the other side of the world. After the decades of the 1940s, many nations are trying to piece back the fragments of the once shattered world to work together and achieve peace through the sacrifice of many individuals Another example of some fallen empires would be the Autrio-Hungarian empire and the Ottomans during the fall of 1918. Peace is finally achieved for once in the world after the demise of such empires in the eyes of the world.

Lives are lost in the bloody and gruesome quest for peace. Once again, in history, the human race has seen and experienced some or the most horrible events done by some of the most horrible people in the world. Shootings on innocent children, mass bombing raids on major cities, mass murder of a certain race…. These actions are just parts of the darkest chapters in human history. Even during the October "Red Army" revolution by Lenin's Bolshevik party to free the oppressed proletarians from the iron claws of the Russian bureaucrats and bourgeoisie, more than 2 million people died in the fight to attain peace in the Russian sub-continent. This is due to the fact that most people, including peaceful demonstrators, were executed by the Russian Tsar at gun point with no mercy. Thankfully, their sacrifice were not in vain, as they finally achieved peace and made Russia from a back-washed "serf" nation to a more powerful and glorious Soviet Union. It didn't take much time for some countries, notably Communist China and Cuba to finally follow in the Soviet Union's footsteps to allow the hammer of the labourers and the sickle of the farmers to achieve peace, unity and prosperity for their own nation.

Thirdly, to attain peace, one must sometimes sacrifice something precious, or valuable on the altar of the peace. It is an undeniable fact, that our history books, pointed out that incredible figures sacrificed their pride and wealth just for the serenity of the body, mind, and soul of others. However, although most people realized about this aspect of life, ironically, they refused to be humble and be compassionate to others, but continue to commit tyranny among their brethren and family. Sadly enough, this is the truth about our society nowadays, as people are more materialistic and individualistic, and care not a single bit of other people's benefits or well-being. If possible, we should be selfless and try to help others in need to try to make the world a better place, filled with joy, compassion and peace, both physically and mentally. One of the figures who did this would be Mahatma Gautama Gandhi, whose selflessness helped the Indians to earn independence from the British in 1947 and sealed him in the pages of the history books as one of the most selfless individual in this millennia, or perhaps the whole eons of the human history. This is because he sacrificed his own dignity and wealth to help his fellow Indians to gain peace from the grasp of the British, and he was constantly pelted and received insults from people who ridiculed his idea of "passive objection". Thus, we should take this fine example as a reminder for us to be humble, kind, and compassionate to others, regardless of their social statuses or backgrounds and try to make the world heaven to everyone, and not a living hell for them. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, "you cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late".

In a nutshell, peace is definitely not something that can be achieved overnight or within a single blink of an eye. Everyone should always try to negotiate, compromise and tolerate others to maintain the peace in our world. Besides, we should remember to never retaliate the actions of other people, as "an eye for eye an eye will make the world blind". On top of that, as an individual, we should try to be more humble, compassionate and religious to achieve spiritual peace for ourselves and others, as with such values, our world will be able to ascend into the glorious realm of prosperity, Martin Lowenthal once quoted that "compassion is a foundation for sharing our aliveness and building a more humane world.

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