Renan Orellana, New York City

Modern society offers very few moments for younger generations and older generations to live together.

We live in a hyperactive world that tends to reward love for oneself over love for others. Often individualism seems to be the best way to “get ahead in life”. In a way, we fall victims to this culture and a mentality of the media and of people who teach us indirectly that our time is too valuable to be spent with the poor.

It is a culture that focuses on ambitions of popularity, fame and fortune and that justifies putting the elderly in nursing homes because they are too old or too weak to be productive.

Whether ambition means making the school basketball team or becoming the CEO of a bank on Wall Street, in the minds of many youth, time is too valuable to be spent with the elderly and we live in a culture that tells us that we cannot waste time.

Little do we realize that friendship with the elderly offers us just the opposite. The Gospel tells us that our time spent being friends with the poor is valuable to our lives. The Community of Sant’Egidio invites us to live out these words by being attentive to others.

Every Saturday at the School of Peace, we try to teach children that focusing on others can in turn make you feel happier.

No one is too young or too old to make our dream for a better city a reality and we see that this is true in our friendship with both the kids and the elderly.

At every visit to the nursing home, we, the Youth, become the intermediaries between two very different generations. The halls of a nursing home are silent and lonely, but we bring the nursing home to life every time we visit.

Busy time divides us and alone you can easily get lost.

We can get lost as a generation of young people who put compassion on the back burner when it is not convenient, or as a generation of elderly who are forgotten by society. But, when we are together – children, youth and elderly – we become part of a story, a shared struggle to make a better city for all.

Spreading a culture of peace means uniting our cities, where too many young people are taught to live their lives satisfying only themselves. Though we are all different, love unites us in our efforts to overcome what might seem impossible.