In order to address the need to be environmentally responsible and to know the rising generation’s take on the deteriorating state of the environment,  SIWA invited students from our sponsor’s international schools and Korean schools that SIWA supports in two divisions, Junior and Senior, to submit essays addressing this year’s theme, #EnvironmentalProtection.

Aaron (Yejoon) Lee from Dwight School submitted this winning essay in the Junior Division.  150,000KRW will be donated to his vetted charity of choice,  Ebenezer’s Home for people with disabilities.

 

Enlightenment for the Unmerited

“Jonas, wake up.” Jonas opened his eyes to find a strange green skinned three-eyed creature in front of him. “Aaaaah”, he yelped. Jonas stared at the strange creature in front of him. The last thing Jonas remembered was watching TV, then going upstairs to sleep. The thing spoke again. “I am Yrylil. I have come to enlighten you.” Then, the thing paused, “Did I get you there partner?” Jonas stared at the alien. “Hahaha” he chortled. “I should have taken a photo of your face right there!” Jonas stared at him(she?) a little more. The thing stopped laughing.
Jonas looked around. He was in a dark room with no visible exit. In front of him was an alien with a sense of humor. ‘Great’ Jonas sighed, ‘I’m going to have to hear him out. “So,” Jonas said. “First of all, how do you pronounce your name? Second of all, Let’s cut to the chase here. Where am I, and why did you bring me here?”
“You humans, always so impatient,” pouted Yrylil. “It’s Yea-ryee-lil, and as for your other question…” Then suddenly, his voice got all gravely and serious. “I come from a planet not much unlike yours.” At this he pushed a button on a small cylinder-ish remote, and a projection of a lush green forest appeared. “Rich in nature,” he continued, “and resources.” At this, the image changed to more three-eyed, green skinned creatures finding various ores, and deposits of natural gas and oil. “But we became greedy and ambitious,” rumbled Yrylil. “We dug, and dug, mined and mined taking more than we need, and using more than we need.” Yrylil stopped to glare at Jonas. He flinched. Then, his fear turned into sudden defiance.
“Are you accusing me of something?” Jonas snapped. “I didn’t do anything wrong!” Yrylil ignored him and continued.
“Soon, within a few generations, our planet ran dry, and we were forced to abandon our home because of this. The same thing will happen to your planet if you don’t do something sooon.” At this, he waved his hands around in a circle.
“Woah!” Yelped Jonas, “Why did you do that?” He asked. Yrylil frowned. “Do what?” He asked Jonas.
“You know,” Replied Jonas. “This!” At this Jonas waved his hands around in a circle.
“Oh that,” replied Yrylil, “It was for emphasis.” Jonas sighed in relief. For a second he had thought that the strange alien had been doing some alien mumbo jumbo on him. Then, his relief turned into arrogant annoyance.
“I know all this stuff.” He said snottily, “You didn’t need to bring me here. You should have kidnapped someone else, like for example, Donald Trump,” he said. At this Yrylil’s otherwise friendly attitude changed into a sudden and surprising fury.
“The unmerited must be enlightened!” Yrylil yelled. “YOU are the one who must realize. YOU are the one who must change.” Then, he clicked on the remote again. The walls seemed to change around them, and showed an image of Jonas a few days ago.
In the image, Jonas was hanging out with his friends around the locker. He was showing off his money. “I get loads of pocket money every day!” Jonas boasted. “I buy new pencils every day!” he said. At this, he took out several pencils. The current Jonas winced. That week, and for several weeks before that, he had been buying new pencils every day in order to show off his money.
Then, past Jonas did something even worse. He put all the pencils in the trash. ‘I don’t even use pencils.’ thought current Jonas. ‘Why did I do that?’
Yrylil stared at Jonas. Then, he clicked the remote again, and the scene changed to a lumber mill. Jonas watched helplessly as hundreds of trees were cut down and changed into neat stacks of wood. The scene changed again. This time, it was at a pencil factory. The stacks that Jonas had seen earlier now were chopped up using huge machines with blades. The image concentrated on the machines. Hundreds of tons of water moved around the machine in order to cool it down. Jonas stared in horror and shame as the burning hot water entered cool streams and lakes unfiltered, and watched hundreds of fish boil, and ecosystems collapse. Then, the scene changed back to a fast forwarded Jonas who bought the pencils only to put them in the trash.
“I wasn’t trying to do this.” Jonas said softly.
“These people weren’t trying to do this either.” Yrylil said as he clicked on the remote again. A group of men with black suits appeared. He recognized the group as the government of Brazil. “We are allowing the cutting of the Amazon Jungle” said the man in the middle.
The scene changed. This time they were in the center of the great rainforest itself. It was beautiful, and full of life. Suddenly, smoke started to rise from the horizon. The scene zoomed in to reveal a group of people setting the forest on fire. Jonas could tell they were trying to clear a small piece of land. But the fire was uncontrollable. The flame spread like, well, wildfire. Soon, the fire grew to be a huge dancing inferno. Animals, and plants burned, and the beautiful green rainforest, a kingdom of animals became nothing but a kingdom of fire.
Jonas realized that this was on the news a couple days ago: ‘The Amazon in Brazil is on fire -how bad is it?’ He remembered his dad forcing him to read it. He remembered watching funny cat videos soon after.
“These people didn’t know either.” Yrylil said softly.
“How was I supposed to know?” Jonas yelled “No, how can I know? Just a normal kid trying to live his life!” Yrylil, with a look of disappointment on his face, silently clicked on the remote again and the scene changed.
This time, Jonas was at home. He wanted to go to a game shop around a ten minute walk from
his house. “Dad! Come on!” Jonas yelled, his face a mask of frustration. “I wanna go to the game shop!” Jonas’s father sighed. “The game shop is only 10 minutes from here.” Jonas’s dad said patiently. “You can walk.” “But Dad, why would I walk when we have a car?!” Yelled Jonas. “For the environment Jonas, ” His father said, “for the environment.” After a few more minutes of pleading and yelling, Jonas’s father relented. When the trip took only one minute, Jonas smiled smugly. “Exactly my point.” he said “Who cares about the environment when you can make a ten minute trip into a one minute one.”
The current Jonas stayed silent for a moment, clutching his head as if he had a huge headache. “Stop” He said softly. Yrylil frowned. “Stop!” He yelled. The unrelenting screen changed, and Jonas watched as the carbon dioxide entered the atmosphere, cloaking the beautiful blue Earth with a sickly black gas. The sunlight that once came and went freely got trapped within the atmosphere. The polar ice caps slowly melted like ice cream on a hot day. Polar Bears swam for their lives only to be eaten by orcas, and some simply drowned, their white bodies floating on the dark blue waves.
Jonas stared, with tears in his eyes as a baby polar bear watched his mother get eaten by a deadly orca.
It didn’t end there. The waves became higher and higher, and soon, New York City was under water. Wave after wave engulfed his school, his house, and his friends and family. Soon, the entire earth was nothing but a huge writhing sea.
Jonas glared at Yrylil with tears in his eyes. “I told you to stop!” He yelled hoarsely. Yrylil’s gaze became a little softer. “I just wanted you to realize.” he said. “To prevent what happened to my planet doesn’t happen to yours. The PEOPLE must know. The PEOPLE must change. Not the Presidents, Prime Ministers, or the world leaders. For if YOU don’t change, why would they.”

5 years later

The image of the polar bears, and the world being overwhelmed by the sea still haunted Jonas’s mind. Since then, he had rallied the students of his school and had gone on protest after protest.
He was 21 now, and was about to give a speech to the people of the U.S.
He walked up to the stage, and started to speak. “Today, I have come to enlighten you.”
3 hours later, Jonas was at home, celebrating with his parents, his friends, and his colleagues. Suddenly, Jonas’s dad caught his shoulder. “Son,” he said, “I have something to show you.” He took Jonas to the upstair’s bedroom. There, Jonas’s dad opened a closet, and at the very back of it, was a mask. A mask of a green skinned, three eyed, alien.
And on a planet far, far away, a race of green skinned, three-eyed aliens met their demise.