The Rotary Club of Pismo Beach / Five Cites
Akash Salam, First Place
Grade 10, Arroyo Grande High School
Teacher: Mr. Gregory
One of the most fundamental aspects of any society is the prospect of education. It is this idea that propels a nation to the heights of its power. Nations, such as the United States and Great Britain, prosper on the principles of education to teach a new generation to lead their respective countries. It is this idea that changed humanity from the Stone Age to the European Age to the New World and to the Modern Age. Inventions, such as the television or cars, would not have been possible had it not been for education. Yet, it is this idea that separates the industrialized nations from the traditional countries.
The separation comes with numerous faults. Countries, such as Burundi and Liberia, are forced to live off of less than $1.25 per day. Entire families are forced to live on foods that most of us would consider trash. Their clothes, if they are lucky to have any, are torn to pieces and provide little to no protection. Their homes are disease-struck, filled with filth, and crumble like stacks of cards. But perhaps most importantly, their children have absolutely no chance to thrive. Rather, they are restricted to work with parents on farms, home duties, and various other tasks. Instead of receiving a proper education, they are forced to live off a life that their parents had lived off of too. How can a nation move forward when the children, the new generation, are not educated? The simple answer is, “They can’t.”
Poverty does not separate nations; education, or the lack thereof, does. Because poverty-stricken countries are unable to teach their children, they are forced to live off a cycle of dread. If there is no light shown to the growing population, there is no way they will be able to grasp any new ideas. And since they are not educated, they will not be able to change their living styles. This flawed system is continuing to make the industrialized nations more educated, thus richer, while at the same time, stripping traditional nations of their individuality.
All is not lost, however. In order to maintain a balanced world, we must act as soon as possible. However, we cannot get rid of education. Education may separate nations, but it also fuels nations forward. The best answer, therefore, would be to utilize our education to serve those without–spreading the wealth, which in this case, is knowledge.
We, as a society, rely too much on the powers of wealthy businessmen, such as Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, to make differences. This flawed mentality makes us, the majority, seem rather useless. But in reality, we are far from that. We, as the majority, can make huge differences. We don’t have to rely on millions of dollars of donations to make change. Rather, we, as individuals, must contribute small amounts to a larger cause. This is where the 4 Way Test comes into play. Through the use of four questions, we can have a changed mentality and contribute as much as we can.
The very first question, “Is it the Truth?” points to the validity of our situation. Are countries poverty-stricken? Well of course they are. Even the most ignorant must admit that there must be something wrong when families have to go without food for extended periods of time. The bigger question comes when we ask if it is due to education. And the truth of the matter is, it is. If we consider history and look at how the Native Americans were stripped of their land by the much more educated Europeans, we can get a clear sense of how Europeans used their education on advanced technology and weapons. While we are not taking over Burundi, we are not letting them prosper either.
“Is it fair to all concerned?” No, definitely not. Why is it that we live in a land filled with food, games, and gadgets, when our counterparts live off of filth? Why is it that we get education to make our lives better, when they don’t even have the chance to read a book? Why is it that we propel our nations forward with our knowledge, when they simply continue their traditional cycles? It simply is not fair.
At this point, we must come to realize that actions must be taken. It is up to each and every single one of us to make a difference. But we don’t have to donate millions of dollars. We just have to do a little; a little a day, a little a week, a little a month. It might not seem to add up, but it will. If we, as the majority, take the issue with our own hands, we can achieve change. It does not have to be just donations. We can set up organizations aimed strictly at giving education to the future generations of struggling countries. Or we can even simply join existing organizations. We can lend our teachers to teach them for a few months. We can give our used books, pencils, and paper for a better cause. It does not have to be money. It just has to be our care; our care to benefit them.
And so the last questions come up, “Will it build Good Will and better Friendship?” and “Will it be Beneficial to all concerned?” Without a doubt, if we help others, we will build stronger relationships. We will create partners, allies, comrades that will ultimately and eventually benefit us. The education that others may receive through our donations will ultimately benefit them to better living conditions. People will no longer be so concerned about food, and in so, will concentrate on educating the next generation. And through this process, nations will grow and thrive. When other nations grow in power, they will contribute their knowledge onto us, and in the process, fight the problems we have today. Instead of looking down on them as our inferiors, we look with goodwill upon them as our partners in laboratories, in offices, and in our everyday lives. Inequality will be replaced by equality.
Education is something we all look up to. But there are those who don’t even know what education is. It is the power of knowledge that thrusts nations forward, but it is also the power that limits others. Through the use of the 4 Way Test and our simply humane connections, we can make a difference. If we, as the majority, as the whole, dedicate to change, we can achieve it. In doing so, we will make a difference to the growing population and even to ourselves when they take the knowledge and build on to it. Knowledge is power. But it is even more powerful when we use it. We must use it.