The 2017-18 essay competition was hotly contested, with hundreds of wonderful entries from schools across the country.  All the entrants are to be congratulation on an extremely high level of work.  Please find below the entry from Annalise Williams, the winner of the Junior section of the competition. Annalise attends South Hampstead High School.  Below it is Mila Rundic's essay which won the Senior section.  Mila attends The Stephen Perse Foundation.



How can religious understanding bring about peace? by Annalise Williams, Year 8


Peace is defined as freedom from disturbance, or an absence of war and other hostilities. In order to attain peace between people of different backgrounds, they need to understand and respect each other’s beliefs, including religion. Religious understanding can only progress in an atmosphere where everyone is willing to show consideration and respect towards one another. So how can Religious understanding bring about world peace?


Historically, differing religious beliefs have been a great source of conflict. Many wars and modern-day rivalries have been the result of religious conflicts.  Terrorism in the modern world is a good example of this. If people were able to understand and accept each other regardless of their different beliefs, the level of conflict in the world significantly decline and people might start to see the good in each other.


In addition, many religions teach people to overcome hate and inspire them to love and be kind. These religions positively guide them and provide them with tools to be less greedy and more compassionate and generous. Religion is a major source of inspiration that can help replace ignorance with wisdom.


In my opinion, three negative human emotions also hold us back from achieving world peace. These include fear, worry and pain. If people could use the benefits of religion to guide them through their fears, worries and pains in life, then the concept of world peace might become a plausible reality.


In conclusion, I believe that religion can contribute towards bringing about world peace but only if people stop focusing on their different beliefs. Religion could be the driving force that unites and inspires people towards world peace, but only if people accept each other’s differences and realise that the world is full of diversity, and this is what makes it wonderful.


How can religious understanding bring about peace? by Mila Rundic, Year 10


Conflict has long dominated society despite many striving for what we call peace. Numerous thence believe religious understanding can be the perfect route to humanity’s desired peace.


The Buddha taught that greed, hatred and delusion are responsible for conflict within as well as without. This philosophy leads some to think: if all humanity was to achieve a state of inner peace, there would be no need for warfare. Conflict is formed in the mind and therefore that is, primarily, where it must be stopped. By craving peace yet not accepting the broken state of society, nothing can change.


Within different religions, the word peace is used to mean different things. This inconsistency forms part of the problem.  Some believe that fighting for the cause of their religion will bring about long term peace. The liberal western idea is that all religions strive for peace, however, some religions have yet to prove this. As a result, some believe that if religions have not succeeded in bringing about peace in all the time they have existed, they will never be able to. The very fact that there are different religions suggests society is divided. And where there is division there is conflict. 


However, conflict isn't necessarily bad; conflict of ideas helps a society to move forward. One hopes that by cultivating community cohesion and embracing religious pluralism; tolerance and harmonious existence can rise above hatred and prejudice.


Perhaps it’s time to surpass idealism, to propagate a more pragmatic approach, educating people about other beliefs, not for the sake of conversion but understanding. Peace does not have to be brought about at the expense of diversity. It is only when religious understanding is accompanied by wholehearted acceptance of diversity that there can be peace between people, within communities and in the whole world.

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