Alexandra Greenspan

Golden Year

I am 21 on this 21st of September. Today. Growing up, I always looked forward to this day as my “lucky birthday”. Now I think every birthday I get to celebrate is lucky.

Last year, I walked out of my apartment on the 21st of September to find a coroner’s van parked next to the sidewalk. A coroner’s van. That day I was another year older, but another person my age — someone I had probably walked past on the street at some point — would never be another year older again.

People all over the world can’t feel at peace in their own lives. There are internal struggles people face trying to make ends meet, trying to provide for their families, trying to believe in themselves, trying to cope with all the challenges they meet. There are external struggles people face due to politics and religion and intolerance, due to people in power who never look into the eyes of the common man or woman, due to fights that lead to immense bloodshed and more hatred.

Every day I take on a storm cloud of worry and doubt over things big and small. I am not always at peace with myself, though I wish I could be. This past summer, I saw people at war and found that these people did have one same hope, even if they didn’t see it that way. The hope for peace. It’s the same hope that innocent people caught in the crossfire of terrorist organizations and overbearing regimes around the world yearn for. Peace.

Society is not truly in the modern age when 2014 looks like centuries of warfare past, when laws for equality cannot get passed, when we don’t spare a thought to the people on the street we’ve passed, when we forget the horrors of the past.

Peace doesn’t have to be some far-off future. Peace can be now.

I believe in the humanity that is a synonym for benevolence. For tolerance. For compassion and goodness and generosity. I want to be part of that humanity.

Turning 21 on the 21st may be my Golden Year, but I will feel grateful for every year I have. Because I am lucky to have any peace in my life, and I want others to have the same.

On this International Day of Peace, remind yourself that we all have a right to peace.