As I sit here in the capital with access to a running, hot, shower, I stare at the dirt on my feet and ponder three words: entitlement, need, and love. I know that the dirt will easily rinse off of my toes because I am blessed with running water. I am not concerned with “rolling around on the ground,” because it is not considered an addition to my workload to get the dirt out of my clothes or skin. This happens simply with the turn of a knob or the push of a button. The definition of entitlement reads, “a belief that one is deserving of certain privileges.” I think that this is an epidemic in many parts of the world. It is easy to adopt an entitlement attitude toward running water, toilets, and the fancy materialistic items that fit into the mold of the “American Dream,” as well as an entitlement to education, security, and love. It is a common assumption that if you have accomplished an unspoken set of goals, you “deserve” love or education. This is an extremely broad statement that I have made, and I do not in any way intend to step on anyone’s toes, but what idea are we as a society pushing? What quality of life are we trying to achieve? One of the definitions for love mentions an object of attachment. Why is it possible to love an object? I feel that the word love has been so grayed because it has become so easy to love things and not humans.

Another word that has been dancing in my head is need. Our leader, Anna, stated that after this trip she hopes that the word “need” is prickly and unsettling to us. This word has sat with me in that manner for a very long time, especially because this is my second time returning to this country. I am discomforted with the idea of needing a luxury item or an unsubstantial experience. Throughout my walk of life, I have met a great deal of people who are appreciative of what they have, but I also know a lot of individuals who would not know what they need until they are actually in need.

I believe that all of these issues tie together in a knot that is much larger than I am currently aware of. That said, I have spent a few wonderful days in a community that shows the ability to thrive despite many hardships. One of our delegates stated today, “They are not rich, but they are richer than we are.” I believe that this community knows how to love one another, to the core, unconditionally. They know how to place little importance on material items. I also have never seen someone value their education like an individual who has experienced the direct repercussions of violence and poverty, but has been given the potential to establish a “way out.” To me, true appreciation is requisite for the presence of beauty.

A mindset that has stuck with me from the previous year is my view on independence. This is very difficult for me, because I am constantly butting heads with those who are close to me to maintain my independence. However, I think that this is a dangerous way to raise individuals. If we are raised to value and work for our independence and personal growth over everything, how will we know how to love each other? How will we know how to truly live for each other if we only know how to live for ourselves?

We left the community yesterday to spend a few days in the capital. I think that this is very beneficial to the individuals who are here for the first time because of the culture shock that they are experiencing, but since this being my second time here, I am not experiencing it. My head is spinning with too many other thoughts. Yesterday was the anniversary of the death of Archbishop Oscar Romero. I remember visiting the place of his assassination, as well as his museum last year and being greatly unsettled by the actions of people. Not just of the government, or whoever you are comfortable blaming, but of the inhumane acts of humans. However, the only part of the experience that brought me to tears last year was seeing the very graphic images of the murdered Jesuits. I was in a different emotional state last year and I was very eager to recognize these unsettling emotions and just push them out of my head. However, due to the state I am in this time, this energy existed within me all day. I couldn’t even look at the graphic pictures this time. I think that my exposure to the balance of love and poverty in the community last year has slowly helped my “empathy fire” rekindle and ignite. That said, I have been disturbed by human capability all day.

Backtrack. I left the states with the very comforting feeling that people care about me and are concerned for my existence. If that isn’t selfish enough, it took me until today to be concerned for theirs. I have not had contact with anyone from the States, and not once have I thought, “maybe they died.” Why? I have been expecting everyone to be alive, but why? Is it because we have created an entitlement for life among our entitlement for everything else? I was exposed to countless, soulless crimes yesterday and it surrounded me with heavy energy. Being in the community and knowing my luxuries in comparison to what the people in the community are thankful for has surrounded me with heavy energy. Was I not concerned about anyone’s death from the States until I realized that I need the peaceful energy of certain individuals to balance me out? I don’t think that this is fully the case, but I do believe that I have created an attitude of entitlement for their lives that I did not realize existed until so much inhumane death was forcefully pushed to the front of my mind, and I needed a knowledge of their well-being.

Fast forward back to human capability. I am still and forever will be in awe of the fact that people can live with more than they would be capable of using or needed if they tried, while so many suffer and fight for the basics viagra generika indien. This is true with poverty-stricken countries as well as in our own backyard. Why is it so easy for us to push out the suffering of others, just like it was easy for me to push heavy emotions out of my head last year? I don’t understand this; however, I know that I will forever be anxious to help in any way possible. I know that I will always be drawn to hardship and tragedy in all forms to attempt to bring light and love. The difference in my current circumstance is that love is prominent everywhere in this community. The pain is small compared to the presence of love. The pain still affects everyone here to a great degree, but they are quick to somehow move forward. I am blessed beyond words to spend my time serving with individuals who are so “rich.” I am humbled to have the opportunity to aid in their educational growth.

I believe that God has introduced the community in El Salvador to me to lay a foundation for a life of service. I pray that God uses me to show love and light to people everywhere, be it the children I work with in Grand Junction, or the children in another country. I pray that my faith never weakens, especially when every day I am exposed to the capability of humans. I pray that I never establish a need for understanding or affirmation of my actions. I pray that I never become tired of work that is filled with so much substance. I pray that at least once, everyone can have empathy for another human, especially one who is suffering. I pray that I can always be the working hands of God.

Considering the fact that it is 12:30 in the morning, and I need my rest to attempt to play soccer against kids who are better than me even if they are sitting down, I am calling it a night. Dulces sueños.

“Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one come to you without leaving better and happier” –Mother Teresa