Antiwar.com is pleased to announce the winners of its first-ever Student Essay Contest, held summer 2006. We had numerous entrants, and we congratulate all who took the time and energy to give us their views. In particular we are happy to report participation from around the world although as Antiwar.coms readership is quite international, this really should be no surprise. All participants will receive a Certificate of Participation; winners will receive a check and Certificate of Award. We will be running the winning entries over the course of the next two weeks. First up is Stephanie Augustine of the United States, 3rd-place winner in the junior division.
Executive director, Antiwar.com
“An army of principles can penetrate where an army of soldiers cannot.”
– Thomas Paine, 1737-1809
So says Thomas Paine, and it is not only true, but a reflection of his personality. He stated this during the Revolutionary War. True to the saying “The pen is mightier than the sword,” Thomas Paine wrote many pamphlets encouraging Americans to fight for their rights. However warlike Paine may seem, though, he was a peaceful writer.
Thomas Paine was born Jan. 29, 1737. The small town he grew up in was Thetford, Norfolk, England. In 1774 he sailed to Philadelphia, Penn., after a concise education. He published a work called “African Slavery in America,” believing enslavement unjust and inhumane. Jan. 10, 1776, saw the publication of his pamphlet Common Sense. In it, he says that America shall and must break away from England, although he had hoped it would not take the many bloody years of war it did.
War is not right. Many men are killed, for no good reason. War was never good and can never be good. Too many brave young men are mercilessly shot and killed. If only one person died, it is likely that that side would rejoice. But yet that one person is still dead. That person’s family would mourn for him.
We must fight for our freedoms, yes, but at the cost of hundreds of thousands of American lives, no. Today, millions of brave American men and women are dying, just for the rights of Iraq. The same thing happened in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. We should not keep sticking our nose where it doesn’t belong. We should do what Thomas Paine said, fight with our principles, let there be no bloodshed. We have disagreements, but we should try to settle them like men, not animals. Since when has war had better results than diplomacy? Never. War just creates death, despair, and hard feelings. War makes the losing side vengeful. It is a contagious disease, but by following Thomas Paine’s principles, we may be able to end the horrifying wars surrounding our nation today.
Thomas Paine had very good ideas, if only people would listen. He knew how bad war really was. He tried to stop it, and instead use diplomacy to end the situation with Great Britain. He wished to try to settle things peacefully. He simply wanted the trouble to be resolved diplomatically. War might release its inexorable grip on the minds of young men, if more people were like Thomas Paine and wanted to solve their problems not by war. All the wars in the world cannot be considered good, especially compared to one simple peace treaty.
What war does any good when neither side gives up, and thousands on both sides are killed day after day, and it is a stalemate? Nothing. Diplomacy solves things much better. A peace treaty does not involve conflict. Treaties can settle things much easier than war, as war rips families apart and makes them want revenge. Peace does not create such conflicting feelings and mourning, it only ends the arguments.
Many of Thomas Paine’s pamphlets helped keep up morale, such as the “American Crisis” papers. These were read by many soldiers and helped them continue, to end the terrible war.
“[A]merica shall never be happy till she gets clear of foreign dominion. Wars will break out till that period arrives, and the continent must in the end be conqueror; for though the flame of liberty may cease to shine, the coal can never expire.” (Early, 55)
The war against terrorism in Iraq grows worse every day. It must be stopped, or millions of brave American men and women will have given their lives in vain. Ever since 9/11/2001, the American people have been forced to fight a war against those kinds of merciless killers. The falls of the World Trade Centers are losses felt deep in the hearts of Americans. But we must stop the fighting, find a peaceful resolution, so that no longer will war force families to mourn for their lost relatives and no more blood will be spilled.
If we follow what Thomas Paine says, we may finally find a truly peaceful solution to our arguments and disagreements. We, the next generation, should not be searching for bloodlust and slaughter. We should search instead for a tranquil resolution, so that no longer will brave men and women die because one side refuses to listen to reason.
Early, James, et al. Adventures in American Literature. New York, N.Y.: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1979.
Cayton, Andrew, et al. America: Pathways to the Present. Needham, Mass.: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2005.
“A Biography of Thomas Paine.” Jan. 1994.