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It is such a simple matter to treat others with kindness, to look at everyone we come across as if we can see the goodness that is in them, as if we know their potential to contribute. I can't make anyone else act a certain way, but I can encourage them. All it takes is to acknowledge that each one of us can be a positive force in everyone else's life. I feel sure that if I am compassionate toward others -- even with a simple smile -- I can help them to pass that kindness on to the people they meet. -- Michelle Diaz, Poway H.S.

People do not expect me to change the world, but I should try. At 17 years young, I have a surplus of days to create change. So, when confronted with the question, "What am I doing to make the world a better place?" I realized my answer was ten feet short of decent and within inches of pathetic. Teenagers often see the world through a lens focused on the word "me." We are overwhelmed with chores, school, and adolescent drama. Many are convinced they cannot handle an "attempt to save the world." They are wrong. It does not take a red cape and super abilities to better the world. No one expects me or any other teenager to bring peace to the Middle East or sufficiently handle America's dependency on foreign oil. Many kids my age do not even know what that last sentence means.

All it takes to improve the world is a smile for a stranger or respect toward the elderly; a revival of chivalry and an excess of courtesy. Good will and cheer are contagious and can be spread in between homework and friends. Picking up trash and refusing to litter keeps our earth cleaner and sends a message to others to do the same. As simple as it sounds, holding doors open and walking old ladies across the street go a long way toward saving the world.

Adolescents are at an age where younger children admire them and hope to mirror their image. Efforts to make the world a better place set an example that is seen by the children who will one day be this nation's future. I do not make the world a better place, but I will...starting right now. -- Andres Perez, Valhalla H.S.

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