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International Essay Contest for Young People 2002  
Children's Category 1st Prize


by Anastasia Rakava
Belarus, Age 11

Peace and harmony are the most precious things that people have. In my understanding, harmony can be of different kinds: harmony with people, nature and animals, harmony with your own self.

I think each family must live in harmony. It makes no difference if it is small or large. My family is not large but it is very harmonious. We are a family of three: father, mother and I. It seems to me we are a part of one thing. If we have some problems, we solve them together. My father is an international route driver, and when he is far from home, I miss him badly. I often ring him up though it costs a lot of money. But I want to hear his voice, and it fills me with comfort and peace. When father is not at home, it seems to me that a part of us is far away. And it hurts me. But when we are all at home, we are never bored. We make jokes, go shopping, and visit our friends and relatives.

We have two pets at home. They are a dog-his name is Max, and a kitten- his name is Levka. They are still very small. The dog is only three months old and kitten is two. But in spite of their age, they have become a part of our family, and we can't imagine our life without them.

Harmony with nature in general is also very essential. Nature is our mother and to live in harmony with it is our duty. We must protect nature in every possible way; we must help it; we must first think and then interfere into its life. People must always have in mind the consequence of their activities, so as not to destroy fragile nature's links. People who live in harmony with nature never offend it; they always enjoy its beauty. Nature is admired all year round-in spring, when it wakes up from its long winter sleep, when trees and bushes put on fresh leaves, when gardens are blooming and birds are singing their wonderful songs. In summer, we enjoy fields and gardens full of flowers, we watch insects at their work, bees collecting nectar, butterflies fluttering from flower to flower, dragonflies dancing their magic dance in the sunshine. In winter, we are charmed by sparkling snow and brilliant stars shining in the dark skies. The snow and trees covered with snow seem unreal under the magic light of full moon at frosty winter night. All these magic changes of nature fill my soul with love, peace and harmony. I am so grateful for my Mother Nature that it makes my life happy and enjoyable.

But as soon as nature's harmony is destroyed by man, the consequences of it can be horrible. In this connection I can't but mention the Chernobyl explosion that broke out in spring of 1986. I was not born yet at that time, but know about it quite well as at present time, all people of my land have to live through its consequences. My native land suffered greatly. About 23 percent of the Belarusian territory is contaminated with radioactive elements. People can't grow crops in these areas; they can't gather either mushrooms or berries in the forests. Life itself has become impossible there, as invisible but very insidious danger is everywhere. Many people left their homes and had to start their life anew. A lot of them died or became invalids. The tragedy is going on. Radiation penetrated into our soil, water and air. Many people have already suffered from the radiation, but what is worse, our children and grandchildren will suffer too from the irresponsible action taken by their grandfathers. And I am so much afraid for my future life and for life of my children.

To live in harmonious with your inner self is not less important than to live in harmony with other people and nature. I understand it in the following way. If a person has to make a very important choice to find a way out of a difficult situation, he should listen to his inner voice. He should understand his inner world. If he is a harmonic person, his choice will be right. He will make no mistake. We should follow the call of our heart more often, then we won't make tragic mistakes, because we are a part of nature and nature won't let us down. But we must keep our eyes and ears and heart open to it.

I am sure if harmony prevails in the world, our planet will live a peaceful and happy life without wars, diseases and hunger. Children will have a happy childhood, while their parents and grandparents will lead a quiet life.

Let harmony prevail in the world. This is my greatest desire.