Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Canada (01/29/09)
TITLE: Planet Earth Academy
By Diana Smith
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Advantages and disadvantages in this conflict were difficult to predict. The most mature students were not necessarily the most powerful. Age did not beget clout or wisdom. Greece, for instance, had once shone in the arts and languages, but now held little influence despite his famous works adorning the school’s halls. Glorious Rome had been sacked only to be revived as the less dominant Italy. Many others were ancient fixtures, yet still struggled among the crowd.
The size and stature of each student gave no clues as to their status either. Larger pupils like Brazil couldn’t necessarily dominate pint-sized ones like Great Britain. Bullying was not born from the biggest, but from the ones with the most to lose. And charisma and influence could radiate from small packages as easy as large ones.
One such large student was often found at the fringes of the yard, never pushy or loud and habitually playing left wing to the star centres. Canada was sprawling, covering mountain ranges and vast prairies and extending to frozen artic islands. He was made up of great lakes and enormous bays, bordered by three oceans and contained six different time zones. If strength was dependant on size, Canada would most certainly be a front runner. But he was not. Was that his deliberate choice or an unfortunate reality?
Often Canada played the role of mediator, placing his physical bulk between battling students and attempting to smooth things over. He was also quick to defend the underdog and assist the victim. Actual military skills he did not lack, but the trait that sparked the flame was missing. The character of Canada contained very little aggression. Did this help or hinder him on the school yard? Would it place him squarely within the Principal’s rules or well below the radar?
Canada gained the respect and affection of other pupils through his efforts to maintain peace. That trait was especially endearing to those without their own security and they warmed to Canada’s refuge. Oh, he wasn’t perfect and had made many mistakes growing up. Stretching from newborn to toddler size had resulted in injuries to many of his natives and even as an older student he could not seem to satisfy the distinctive parts of himself. However, the underlying tone for Canada was always conciliatory. He was ever quick to make apologies and implement preventative measures. That tendency towards peacefulness made Canada a friend to most, or at least an enemy to very few. Was that an enviable position or just a forgotten one?
Many teachers at the school taught lessons about tolerance, urging the students to see past differences and embrace diversity. Love and acceptance were much touted, although much less practiced. Since it led inevitably to peace, Canada saw great value in the idea of tolerance and soon became very adept at it. He was much celebrated for his open-minded policies, congratulated and even emulated for his forbearance. However, a strange phenomenon stole into his character and quietly sank its claws in. His backbone seemed to soften. He found himself easily swayed, not by the threatening schoolyard bullies but by those who lobbied him unceasingly. The squeaky wheel got the oil, even if that meant the engine ran dry and seized. Compromises were made in his heart and actions were sanctioned that were far beyond the lines he had drawn. Was this the true name of peace - the untold reality of growth and progression?
If one is tolerant above all else, is it possible that he will become blind to things that are intolerable? Are some lines not better drawn?
Canada was not alone in his growing pains; his struggles for identity and boundaries were shared by many. Thankfully, the Principal had the running of the school firmly in hand, despite what the students thought. As each continued to develop and grow, He interacted in different ways with them, individually and as a body. He had much to teach them before school was out.
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