Winner of the 2020 Peter Jones Peace Prize

Posted on September 9, 2020

The Peter Jones Peace Prize is named after long-serving Friends’ teacher (and Quaker) Peter Jones, who has spent a good deal of his life campaigning for peace and justice in the world. This High School-based prize was started in 2017 in honour of Peter Jones and to give students the opportunity to reflect on matters of peace and justice.

Peter Jones

This year’s Peter Jones Peace Prize invited students to respond to the Martin Luther King quotation; “If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a  great way,”  A common theme in the entries was the importance of acting with integrity in our everyday actions.

Guest Judge, Sophie Rigney (2002 Alumnus) announced this year’s winner; Year 10 student Annabel Woolward, for a compellingly brave piece of Slam Poetry entitled ‘One Day at a Time’ which used the spoken word in a thoughtful, powerful way to link individual and community levels of justice. Year 8 student Tom Petty received the Runner Up prize for an impassioned speech engaging in a critique of capitalism. We congratulate all student entrants for the ways in which their entries demonstrated their inspiration about questions of social justice and peace.

You can read the speech given by Sophie Rigney at the Peter Jones Peace Prize Presentation here.

Left to Right: This years’ Judge, Sophie Rigney (2002 Alumni), Runner up Tom Petty and winner Annabel Woolward, all standing in front of a portrait of Peter Jones.

Here is the winning entry from Annabel Woolward (Year 10):

One Day at a Time

If you blink you’ll miss the kiss of time
You’ll sink in the abyss of what you’ve left behind,
detached from the bliss of what this life could give.
So why think of a world that’s dying?
If that’ll make you stressed
No need to fix someone else’s mess
And I’d be lying if I said, it’s easy to address
Cause when you’re trying to resist’em,
when standing up to unfair systems,
you’re just another drone,
a clone of righteous thinking,
moaning and groaning of the problems and the solemn world we live in
And in every single city, some people don’t agree,
Or they dare not start to plea for the prospect of future freedom
Are they too scared?
Or do they just not care?
Or perhaps it’s the fearsome threat of lonesome living
When you step towards the stadium and everyone thinks you’re a troublesome
The weak link in a world too bleak to bother being better
But maybe that’s just pessimistic
and they’re actually being realistic
Fighting to keep the unsteady path we walk on
Even as it creaks and cracks beneath our feet
Cause it’s fragile as glass
And as the years pass
The fractures grow fast
And then it’s too late
No way to re-join life cracked by hate
Shattered from the strife of fights with word and knife
So we’ll take a step back,
To look at these cracks
and see the cold, harsh weeping slowly creeping forwards
As each new day is reaping the perfection from before it
We thought we’d be keeping the peace,
but we let it roam too far
And now our world’s an abandoned home,
haunted by the ghosts of the old
bold and begging to be heard
for us to trust in what they told us
Of the pain and mistakes of the past generation
They’re asking us to fix it

But we’re missing the quick wit we need
In proceeding to understand the implications
Of nations not taking action
and not seeing that evasion of responsibility
is dismally similar to placidity
Allowing bigotry and toxicity
To take away dignity and assimilate misery
But no
It’s the small things where change begins
They cling together
and bring a vast thing into existence
the persistence it takes to go the distance
to make a difference
shows resistance from those
fighting against righting our wrongs
So, learn to love little victories
Which come together and go down in history
It’s the vigorous labours
Of each person that really matters
That are gonna make a difference
Perhaps not stop the sufferance of millions
But it’s a step forwards
Towards a world where your words will be heard
And we’ll have a better Earth
So, let’s spend each day a different way
And don’t delay when liquid rays of joy give you more
than what you thought you had in store
When you thought you were fraught with error
Seeing yourself next to someone else
Doing more than you
or doing something different
but you are not the same as them
in name or calls to fame
so stop
and think
You see, doing what you do
Is key to living happily
Remember that’s true
When you think a choice you make
is one more mistake and it eats away
Your self esteem
Because what you did was not extreme enough
Compared to stuff
Someone else was seen to do
Which was greater and bigger and better
And that nagging jealousy
Is cutting through your motivation

For what you want to do
And blending it into a frenzy
of expectations blocking original revelations
An exemption from real life
Which makes your life unreal
Cause you don’t care about how you feel
But change what you do to fit the stares
of unfiltered glares
Who don’t realise the significance
of someone without a reputation
doing something of importance
So, that little thing you did today
Hugging a friend or smiling their way
Planting a tree or trying to see
If you can help a crying stranger
By hanging back a while longer
Compliment a neighbour
Or perform a simple favour
You could break your routine
To make a shared space clean
And perhaps buy a drink
For someone you think
Needs it more than you do
Know that all these are something
Don’t think that they’re nothing
stop fluffing around and worrying
About stuffing up and failing
Or not saving the world
In one sitting
I think it’s fitting to remind you
There’s so many ways to mend the world
Start small, be kind
Just focus on fixing the little bits
One day at a time

And here is the runner-up speech by Tom Petty (Year 8):

The Creature

Hello, peers, teachers and other associates. Firstly, I would like to thank you in advance for your time to hear out what I will have said. I am here today to warn you of a serious monster-like creature. This creature treats some lucky humans with dignity and respect, while it lashes out aggressively at the majority of others without mercy. It exists in every element of modern life; from the time you wake up to the time you go to sleep. It always demands more of you and is never satisfied. This creature exists every countryside from a few, it makes the world go around from the perspective of our society. It makes many of us go mad, and is responsible for a huge number of our societal conflicts. Most of us see it as normal as it hides itself behind a cloak of wealth and prosperity. Humanity, or at least the wealthy western world, birthed it, fed it, nurtured it, fought for it and yet it is slowly killing us all. It may be only a few decades from now or it may be a century away but one day it shall show us it’s true colours of horrific death. This creature has a name, in English it is Capitalism.

There used to be many other systems of society, Hunter-Gatherer, Feudalism, Communism and Marxism but after a huge number of social developments, inventions and many wars they boiled down to just Capitalism, but here’s the problem Capitalism is not in any regard sustainable, that includes the sustainability of peace. Capitalism relies on increasing amounts of labour and raw materials to provide for engine that powers Capitalism, Consumerism. Without our ever-increasing amounts of raw materials and labour Capitalism would splutter, stall and then completely collapse throwing the world into utter anarchy. This would result in a hugely violent time for humanity. The major problem is that the world does not have unlimited resources to provide the unlimited labour and the unlimited materials to sustain the Capitalist model. Capitalism has other problems as well, especially inequality. The top one percent of humans, just one in every hundred people, owns more than the bottom 80% of people. Although defenders of Capitalism claim that it has given rights to many who would otherwise have not. Do these rights actually exist for the majority of people who are basically slaves to their employers as they get pay not enough to feed, educate and house their family but without them they would suffer and starve. The definition of a slave is ‘one that is completely subservient to a dominating influence’ according to Merriam Webster. This majority of people are slaves them because in their world they have to be completely subservient to their employer or they will die. As stated earlier the engine of these problems is Consumerism. Without it, Capitalism is non-existent. Nearly every person in developed societies is a die-hard addict to it. Every time you buy something, turn on the lights or are jealous, you are feeding this monster that shall one day bring society down. Many people, most of whom share a very similar political ideology to me, say things like ‘renewables are the answer’, ‘green products will save the world’ and other junk like that. These people are missing the point. The point is don’t consume not consume in a slightly different manner that is just the equivalent of kicking the can down the road. For wind turbines are made of metal and plastic and all kinds of exotic materials, every green product takes so much water and arable land to make that it could supply a family with food. I am not asking you to do great things like becoming a person who doesn’t consume anything or some kind of holy person like a Sikh, but I am asking you to do small things like trying to consume less or making an effort to avoid unstainable practices. If enough small things are done, together they will become a great thing.

Time is ticking, the world only has less than half a century of proven oil reserves, and if Consumerism is the engine of Capitalism than oil is its fuel. Without it, Capitalism will cease to exist in the form we know it in. If oil demand increases until the reserves are emptied then the world will collapse so quickly and so deeply that it will be beyond the most creative apocalyptic author. To imagine this scenario, think of a world where unemployment is 70%, and the governments are bankrupt with hyperinflating currencies. Although this seems unlikely at the moment at our current trajectory is where we are headed. Some might say things like ‘electric cars’ and ‘bio-plastics’ but as I have stated earlier, we are beyond the point where we can simply consume differently but we have to not at all. Many other things are driving us towards that kind of scenario, not all of them are backed by Capitalism, but an overwhelming majority of them are.

If the biggest problem of them all, a problem so great that, if remained unsolved, it shall bring down humanity, is that there is no other alternative to Capitalism. I admit I have no solution to this problem but humanity needs just one person to lead us somewhere, away from Capitalism for all of us. Karl Marx was very this person, but sadly due to corrupt leadership the three systems that he conceived, Communism, Marxism and Socialism never truly took off. Just one person is all that is required to turn humanity away from its dangerous heading to a bright, sustainable and peaceful future. Just to be thinking about it is a small but none the less a great thing, for if we all put our minds to the task, we will be able to solve the problem. Humanity just needs to stand united, without corruption for us to able to save us from absolute destruction. But maybe that is the ultimate goal, to unite humanity. It just needs a single person to lead us there.

Thank you