Marking the 70th anniversary of UNESCO, the 2015 theme of the International Essay Contest for Young People was "Building Peace in Our Hearts and Minds." From among 12,960 entries from 148 countries, the winners were selected by the Goi Peace Foundation:
Ella Olivares Powell, age 8, born in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, won 2nd Prize in the Children's Category.
Unblock Your Hearts for Peace
Did you realize that everything in the world is connected? Unfortunately, most people don't think of themselves as connected to everything. Right now on this planet, there are a lot of people with anger and fear in their hearts. They believe they are alone. They don't feel connected. They think they need to keep their hearts protected. They buy more stuff and try to control other people to feel connected. But what people really need to do is to remove what is blocking their pure hearts.
When we unblock our hearts, we build peace and love. We begin to believe in ourselves. When we are connected to our hearts we know that everyone is equal. When we feel connected, we realize we are a part of the earth. A person with a pure heart takes care of the earth and protects her from harm. If we respect each other and the planet, and remember we are all connected, there will be peace in the entire world!
You see, the heart and mind are equals. They work together. Our mind gives us our thoughts and ideas, but the heart makes the mind feel comfortable and loving. Anger and fear cause these block on the heart. Everybody should try to relax and breathe and ask, why am I scared or angry? You can try to write out your feelings like I do, or tell a close friend or family member what you are feeling. You can meditate or just play outside to feel connected again. I had my first yoga class when I was only three years old! Do whatever is right for you to unblock your heart. When you wake up the next day you will feel a golden heart as pure as the sun!
When we see people treating each other badly, or someone treats us badly, that can add more layers to the heart. When my family moved to Chile from Mexico for a year, I went to a new school and they treated me differently. That didn't make me feel good, but even though it hurt, I knew I had to keep believing in myself. It doesn't matter what other people say, the color of your skin, or if you are a boy or girl. You should remember, I am powerful and I am great! You can even run for president! I speak English and Spanish and have an American mom and a Latin American dad. We love to travel to new places. I want the world to be a peaceful place where everyone can travel and learn about different cultures and countries.
When I connect with nature I feel so alive and full of peace! I even hug trees! People pollute the earth, but why? We live by a beautiful creek, but some neighbors were polluting it. We reported what they were doing and I did my best not to let that sadness interfere with my pure heart. That's what we all have to do. It is difficult to see how people who are not connected to their hearts treat the earth. But we can be patient and do our best to teach them new ways. My family works in the solar business. I hear about clean energy and helping people who live in remote places. I would like to see the whole world connected with clean energy!
It can seem like things are going pretty badly on earth with glaciers melting, pollution, and wars. The world as we know it could disappear and we humans might not be here anymore. It would be a very lonely planet. You should ask yourself; do you want the world to be better or worse? I want the world to be better and peace starts in each of our hearts. We don't need a lot of new stuff. What we need is love. What we need is to feel connected. What does it do for you when you are angry? You are only hurting, YOU! So let's unblock our hearts, connect to each other, connect the earth, and live in peace!
~ Ella Olivares Powell, age 8
Goi Peace Foundation Forum & Awards 2015 (Ell's name is introduced by MC as the second prize children's winner around 39:30)