Be 26 years old. Home is 2200 miles away. You’ve spent the last 9.5 years of your life in a country that’s not yours. Before you left home, half your relatives had already done so. Be a stranger to your family and your people. You can’t count the times you’ve cried yourself to sleep in desperation, anger, fear and frustration for your country, for your friends, for yourself. How can I help my country? Why is life so unfair? Why is social injustice left unpunished? I hate war, it asphyxiates my people.
I am Colombian, as Colombian as a Colombian can get. My country was in civil war for 52 years until last Wednesday. I can’t speak for all Colombians, but I can speak for myself and what this peace agreement means to me.
For those Americans who like to clarify their origins, I’ll be precise: I am at least 13th generation Colombian. My generation is very different from my parents’ generation. I often joke that my parents’ generation suffers of post-traumatic stress disorder. They had a beautiful infancy, but then, the whole Colombian society collapsed into chaos and war and corruption, and the faith they had in life and the trust they had in destiny turned against them and took away their dreams. To give you a personal example, take my father. My father is insecure and emotionally disturbed because he saw how his future became uncertain and could not do anything about it. He is in general pessimistic, scared and frustrated. Despite being a pious catholic, he has no real faith on destiny and lives in fear. He is always afraid he won’t attain happiness, and when he does find himself in a happy place, he can’t believe happiness will last.
My generation is not afraid or frustrated. Take me for example. I am overall astray and somewhat deranged. It’s not that I don’t get scared, I just don’t respect fear. I don’t respect anything that society tries to impose on me because I hate the system. A system that perpetuates a war that destroys lives deserves no loyalty. I don’t hide behind others, I question everything, I don’t hold back, I don’t concede. I am stubborn and to some extent spoiled.
Why? Because, unlike my father, I got screwed over before I was even born. I am full of anger and rage, and I don’t respect the society that brought me into life. I hate the putrid state that raised me. I hate its war. I hate its hypocrisy. I hate that it hurts the weak, the poor, the lonely, and the vulnerable. I am angry and sad and I want the world to change. I want peace. I do.
Be 26 years old. Find yourself in the kitchen on a Thursday morning getting ready to leave for school. Stop. Feel a strong current taking over every cell in your body. Look down on your coffee. You are a human waterfall. Laugh uncontrollably and at the same time weep. Weep like you haven’t in your life. This time it’s different, you are crying of happiness. You taste your happiness in your tears. We will have peace. My people want peace. It is certain. My country will be beautiful. Peace will rule. It is absolutely liberating. I wish that feeling for everyone.
The night of August 24th, a final peace accord between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces put an end to a war that began 52 years ago and has killed perhaps 220,000 people and displaced 7 million more . The peace deal is not a perfect agreement, and there are contentious points over which Colombian citizens will vote in October of this year. I believe the deal deserves our endorsement.
It is an interesting time in world politics for Colombian citizens to speak up and stand for mercy and tolerance and forgiveness. This year we have seen the British vote out of jealousy, doubt and ignorance for the Brexit. Also, I have found myself totally depressed, infuriated and disappointed by the state of the American presidential race. It is simply ridiculous and just plain sad to see how so many people want to either instigate or feel fear and hatred so that they can say they are survivors of a “pretend war”. They know nothing about fear and hatred and actual misery and what war does to a society.
Colombians have a chance to end one of the world’s longest-running conflicts. This October, all Colombians residing abroad who register the citizen ID’s in the Consulate will be able to vote and I hope support the peace agreement. Let’s take this opportunity! Maybe America and Europe, the “developed” nations, can learn a thing or two about the value of compassion when it comes to community building. Let’s stand for peace and hope and forgiveness.
References:  The Economist. “Colombia and the FARC: Ending a half-century war”. August 27th, 2016.