The Humanist Essay Contest is geared toward exposing students in grades 9-12 to humanism and issues of importance to humanists while financially helping these young scholars advance in their studies. Prizes are awarded for originality of thought, sense of emotional engagement, clarity and quality of presentation, amount of research evidenced, and future potential shown by the author. Deadline of March 3, 2008.
by J.B. Marek
Humanist Essay Contest
1st Place Winner 2007
“I always forget them after I kill them.” These are chilling words from a bold and intrepid leader known the world over. This youthful hellion led a surefooted band of ruffian orphans through hostile territory seeking blood and revenge. They crept noiselessly along warpaths, silent as shadows, disappearing as quickly as rabbits. Who is this indomitable commander with the courage to challenge a lion, the ability to hear danger in his sleep, and the ruthlessness to chop off a man’s hand?
He is a child, the notorious Peter Pan.
[. . .]
Although J.M. Barrie died in 1937, he would not be surprised if he were alive today to hear that many teenage rebels in Sierra Leone were often scared of what Singer refers to as the ruthless “small-boy” units. And yet, while Barrie’s character Peter Pan sees many tragedies during his make-believe adventures, he forgets them all. Peter Pan and his cadre of orphans are galvanized by their short memory and the innocence of youth provided by the author. The child soldiers in Sierra Leone had no such protection. They are scarred for life by the violence forced upon them.
[Read the rest of this 17-year-old’s compelling essay here.]