Honorable mention — High school essay contest: Kaitlyn Cochenour

Is God a solution?

By Kaitlyn Cochenour

For years, people have turned to religion to solve problems rather than making changes that are within reach. No matter their beliefs, people should still rely on common sense, personal efforts and individual change to solve problems.

One example is the conflict between religious influence and the use of vaccinations. Vaccines are essential in a society in which social interaction is constant. These medicines protect not only the person who receives it, but everyone around them. One of the most common disagreements with vaccines has to do with religion. Some religious individuals and groups believe that God or another deity can solve this problem. But some invisible, all-knowing force will not save anyone from harmful and even deadly sicknesses.

Another example of using religion instead of practical problem-solving is the rehabilitation of addicts. Addiction is a painful and devastating force that needs to be addressed in an upfront and honest manner. Leading people to believe in something just to stop them from addiction is not an effective solution. A focus on religion in rehabilitation leads to the question, “If God wants me to recover so much, then why am I an addict in the first place?” Focusing on religion instead of practical solutions leads to empty promises, a loss of faith and lack of progress.

I have experienced this in my own life through my older brother. He was diagnosed with cancer in 2012. Following his diagnosis, he fell into a life of drug abuse, alcoholism and great mental struggle. When all of these terrible things happened, I tried to tell myself that God would help him and that things would soon be better. Things only continued to get worse and I felt as though my family was a victim of God, rather than those who he cares for. I developed a host of mental issues in facing one of the most difficult challenges in my life. I kept seeking calm through religion in hopes that everything would go back to normal.

Eventually, my mind began to disprove the power of God. If he was so great, then why had he allowed all of this to happen to a young teenager and his fifth-grade sister? Through chemo, therapy and rehabilitation, my brother is making enormous progress. Practical, known solutions allowed him a chance for success and to be the best version of himself.

Kaitlyn Cochenour

Religion had no place in my progress, either. Humans can accomplish so much without using religion because humans are mighty.

Kaitlyn, 18, is from New Castle, Pa., and will attend Youngstown State University with plans to major in business administration. She was involved in track, varsity softball, travel softball, jazz band, concert band, marching band and art club. Following graduation, Kaitlyn hopes to own a tattoo shop.