This I Believe

Rachel - Gainesville, Georgia
Entered on June 13, 2006
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: gratitude

This I believe: I got lucky. Even before I was born, I was lucky. My mother loved me enough to take care of herself during her pregnancy. She avoided drugs, alcohol, and tobacco. Thanks, Mom.

Had my family lived in China, there’s a good chance I could have been the victim of a late-term abortion or abandonment. Sons are valued that much more than daughters, and the Chinese law allowing only one child per family has created these horrible consequences.

If I’d been born in Darfur in the Sudan, I’d probably be long dead, murdered by the government’s militia, the Janjaweed. If I had survived, it would be to face a life filled with starvation and wandering as a refugee, a victim of a genocidal war that the rest of the world has largely ignored.

As a member of a religious minority, I can fully appreciate living in a country that allows freedom of religion. Sixty years ago, members of my family were enslaved and slaughtered in Europe simply because they were Jewish. A fifteen year old cousin lived in the forest and fought with the French resistance until he was captured, tortured and killed by the Nazis. One of my great uncles, Laszlo Varga, was only a teenager when he spent a year in a Nazi labor camp. He eventually escaped but during the bombing of Budapest, which lasted for months, his house was hit by bombs sixteen times. After the war, he fled, penniless, to the United States…where he eventually became the principal cellist for the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.

All this makes me realize what a huge responsibility we fortunate ones have. We weren’t born into comfortable circumstances because we were more deserving. John F. Kennedy said, “For of those to whom much is given, much is required.” Making a contribution to the human race is so much easier with a full belly.

When you’re eleven, it’s hard to imagine a future that’s anything but bright. So far my life experiences have been pretty limited. I’ve never known any real disappointments. I’ve been loved and encouraged in my home, my school and my temple. I’ve never had to mend a broken heart or fix a flat tire.

Lily Tomlin said, “Wouldn’t it be great if we all grew up to be what we wanted to be? The world would be full of nurses, cowboys, firemen, and ballerinas.” Today, this very minute, I want be a writer. Tomorrow I may not. The wonderful thing about my life is that right now I have no limits. I can be anything I want to be.

Part of getting older, I realize, is that life begins to place limits on us. Sometimes they’re financial, sometimes they’re physical, sometimes we create limitations for ourselves by our own actions. They don’t call it a Permanent Record for nothing.

So there it is… I live in a place and time that values me for my gender, my faith, my accomplishments and my aspirations. I can be anything I want to be and my future truly is bright. Boy, did I get lucky