The Firefighter Christopher Santora Educational Scholarship Fund Website

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Sashwat Adhikari:
2015 Winner
P.S. 122

Sashwat Adhikari

Winning Essay

“Tock!” goes the gavel, followed by a projected voice, “All rise.” To many of us, this is the place most commonly associated with the word “justice”: the courtroom. Here, some may find justice, and others may find punishment. For the sake of what is right, people put together evidence much like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, and may sometimes be satisfied or horrified by the final picture that’s formed. Nonetheless, cases are solved and truths are revealed in this tense and unnerving atmosphere. The courtroom is one of the most salient symbols of our country, and it represents justice, a staple aspect of the American life. The word “justice” is even embedded into our Pledge of Allegiance, which is recited by many across the country everyday. It ends with the words, “justice for all”. To me, justice for all means more than just conclusions based on testimonies and juries. It’s a structure that stands on the pillars of equality, morality, and righteousness. Justice for all is the idea that everyone has an equal chance of morally finding the truths that they deserve and the just conclusions that follow them.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” This is an excerpt from the Declaration of Independence, and it states that all people are created equal and possess unalienable rights. All Americans are given a chance to pursue liberty and happiness, and to get to their destination, they may seek justice. Age, gender, or ethnicity do not affect the rights of a person or how they are treated. In order for everyone to have a shot at seeking justice, they must be treated with respect as equals. Another crucial idea that comes to my mind when I think of “justice for all” is morality. I could talk endlessly on this subject, weaving through it’s many philosophies, but in terms of justice, everyone is entitled to a just and happy life in which moral values are practiced. As humans, it is our nature to possess a moral understanding of us and what’s happening around us. Essentially, morality is the beliefs of what is good and what is evil, and they are practically universally the same.  Justice cannot exist without morality, for morality is what judgements are based on. And finally, much like morality, there cannot be justice for all without righteousness. They may be misunderstood as the same, however, the difference between the two is that morality tells us not to lie, and righteousness tells us to proclaim truth in the midst of lies. For justice to be served, there is no room for smoke and mirrors, for they may keep us astray from our pursuit of liberty and happiness, and of course, justice. Righteousness is essentially the clearing of the smoke and the covering of the mirrors, so that we may find the truth in justice.

In the final analysis, these are the factors that I believe make up the meaning of the words “justice for all”. Without equality, not everyone has the tools to seek justice. Without morality, we are blind and cannot judge what is good or evil. Without righteousness, we are hindered from our path to justice, liberty, and happiness. Together, these principles are what I believe make up and support justice for all.


To be honest with you, I did not believe my essay would be a winning essay for the Christopher Santora Scholarship Fund. I told myself, “Well, Sashwat, if you think about it, there are dozens of other people that you know would do a fantastic job about writing a fantastic essay about what justice for all means to them. Besides, what are the odds that you’d win? Right?” And thus, I almost didn’t even write an essay at all. That was when my fellow students of P.S. 122, students whom I believed had better luck than me, the same students whom I am grateful of calling my friends, told me that I might as well try. “Who knows?” they said. So, it’s fairly ironic how I came to write this essay. Sure, you can interpret the message of this story in various ways, and I’m sure there are lessons to be had from it. Perhaps it tells us to grasp opportunities as they come, and to put all our chips on the table when we can. I’m not talking about gambling, of course. All in all, I believe it’s important to try things in life even when our odds go against us.

Trying new things to me is probably one of the most fulfilling things you can possibly do in life. For example, a few years ago I told myself that I wanted to learn to play guitar. This was back when I was just learning how to make line graphs, and I used to give up too easily. When I first tried some basic chords, I told myself that it was just too hard, and that guitar was just simply not for everyone. Of course, guitar isn’t for everyone, however, I found it was for me. A few years later, I began playing again. This time, I realized that I wasn’t the only one who couldn’t play the F chord, and that I had to keep trying. I kept trying, and I kept playing until I started learning many songs, and I began to realize that I loved challenges. At one point this year, I even played the guitar blindfolded for my school’s talent show, a nerve-racking but fulfilling experience. I came to the conclusion that by trying something that I used to think was near impossible for me, I found a hobby that I liked, I found out something about me, I learned to keep trying, and most importantly, I started trying even more things. In closing, I believe it’s important to remember to make the most out of the opportunities that are presented to you, because you never know what can come from them.

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