Finding Myself, 3016.136 Miles from Home

The thing about service is that it can be incredibly disheartening. The oceanic gap that inherently exists between people has the ability to make one believe that there’s just no point. When I was in the Dominican Republic, separating smooth cement from rough, I thought to myself that it was futile because I could spend weeks, months, decades even, shoveling and patting down cement to build this family a new house. And I could spend an additional lifetime shoveling and patting down and building for other families across the nation. And maybe another thousand lifetimes doing the same for families across the globe. Ultimately, what real difference could I make? I didn’t even know where the injustice started; there was no way I could bring about any change to end it.

In those moments when I felt despair about the futility of my exertions, I found myself at a crossroads, the outcome of which would shape my perspective going into the future. I saw two options, as clear as they were opposite. The easier of the two was to simply forget. I could complete my service hours in this beautiful, impoverished country, return home to sunny San Diego, and forget that people suffered silently here in a way that I could not begin to fathom. I could go back to a world where people spent their time considering what to post on their social media sites, and forget that somewhere in the world, people were without the barest necessities. I could go on to plan a comfortable course for my future, and forget that I had seen things here that made my heart hurt.

My second choice was to remember. It was to come back to my familiar house, with all of its warm amenities, and cherish it as I had forgotten to before. It was to use the resources I had been given, and let them take me as far as possible. I didn’t want to forget. I began to realize that any amount of effort is always worth it because anything less than full effort is an insult to those who don’t have half the chances I am given. And to even affect the tiniest amount of change means I will have made myself immensely useful.

I plan to impact my community on both an immediate and global scale by bringing knowledge to those who need it. I believe that just as I was ignorant to the true amount of injustice that the world held, many people are completely ensconced in their own worlds, and are blind to the lives that others lead. Perhaps some of them will choose the first path, and I can’t presume to blame them. But I have to believe that some people would find themselves incapable of staying inactive. And through the spread of knowledge, and the combination of many great efforts, I think it is very possible that we could make a difference.

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