This I Believe

Veronica - San Jose, California
Entered on May 21, 2007

I believe in a purpose beyond myself. Working to satisfy solely my needs and desires does not seem like enough for me; the idea does not sound like it would make me feel fulfilled. I have spent much time this past year in contemplation to come to the conclusion that there has to be more to my life than living it motivated by selfishness.

About a year ago, this idea was made fact for me by a complete stranger. On a normal spring day, I walked into my Spanish class to find that we had a substituted teacher that day. I began to converse with this woman about Colombia, since she was Colombian. We discussed the country’s beauties but then moved onto the horrors of its land mines and other current atrocities in the world. With a look of sorrow and disappointment, the teacher said, “Todo esto está pasando, pero muchos se sientan sin hacer nada; no entiendo porque.” In this phrase, she expressed her disappointment at how people do not do anything to fix the suffering in the world. At that moment, a flame was lit within my heart: a flame of compassion. This woman was absolutely right, why do so many people continue their lives of complacency even at the sight of a fellow man in need? To this day, her words resonate in my head, as I continue to seek my purpose as a young person.

As I seek the purpose for the rest of my life, I constantly come to the conclusion that dying having only contributed to myself, would be a very miserable death. Imagine, one who has never given back to others, on their deathbed, thinking about all the cars of metal they have, all the houses of wood and cement, and all the paper money they accumulated: what an empty feeling. On the other hand, one who lived a life of love and compassion, would be able to not only think of the love and compassion they experience but would also be able to feel it within themselves. One may look back to Andrew Carnegie, who built a multi-millionaire empire with his Carnegie Steel, but at the end of his life he felt incomplete and decided to donate much of his earnings to charities. I don’t want to be like Carnegie, achieving fulfillment on my deathbed, but I want to live this fulfillment everyday.

I am not advocating giving back to others because it is the nice thing to do, no, I am saying that it is in our nature to give back to each other. Whether it is to help fight the AIDS epidemic in Africa, volunteer at one’s local hospital, or help the old lady down the street carry her groceries, all will contribute to one’s fulfillment. To live a selfish life, is to live a miserable one; it is to live an unnatural one.