After listening to the opinions and recollections of events from the Salvadoran Civil War, I have come to dwell on a few things. The war seems to me, to have been a cycle of senseless pain and hurt in and of itself, constantly affecting every aspect of life. One day, gunfire was exchanged here and another time it was exchanged there. Someone died here, and then someone died there. Although there was always care and empathy in the words of my interviewees when death was brought up, it does not change the fact that all these people just died, and that was that. Their families would not see them again and they would not get the chance to see their families again, at least not in this world. One second Papa Chepe was alive, the next he was gone, maybe forever, I do not know. Listening to the stories of my family members made me think of life’s fragility, about how I value my life as much as the next person, and yet it could be gone in an instant. Things seem almost pointless sometimes. I try to stop myself from thinking like this because every life is worth something and every life is valued by another. We all have our purpose on this earth and our existence, whether long or short is not pointless, not ever.
The seemingly bigger than life event that was the Civil War in El Salvador is no more than the individual memories and experiences lived by it’s citizens. When these all come together, they may amount to everlasting poignant emotions, memories and very few answers as to ‘why?’ With each individual account comes a unique point of view from an encompassing agonizing experience for most who lived through it, that is topped with sometimes unexplainable sentiments. Around 70 thousand lives were lost during the war, maybe even more, and for what? During the armed conflict, everyone was a target whether indirectly or directly. Children, adults, the elderly… in essence, there was a complete disregard for human life from the two warring sides. How can war be any different from this? The brutality, the hopelessness, the despair that plagued the lives of many from 1980 to 1992 seem to have been for naught, since El Salvador has only slightly improved in terms of rights and benefits for its citizens. No miscommunication, no misunderstanding, no quarrel, no dispute should have to lead to war, especially not a Civil War. To me, from the view of El Salvador, Civil War is the equivalent of an already small family fighting to tear itself apart.
While war should never be the answer, it’s outcome does show the fortitude of the human spirit. That is, the resilience displayed by those in my family and the many others who lived and were able to carry on. A clear example that even with so much tragedy, life always finds a way to move on; in seemingly unbearable or unlivable conditions, people still try to find a way to make the best out of the hand they are dealt. They try to overcome adversity and fear through supporting one another and being witnesses to one another’s testaments. The spirit wants to live on above anything else and protect those dear to it. This is what brings about hope. After the rubble and bodies are done falling, people are still left standing who will carry the legacies of those before them. Today, my family continues to live on and to work hard in order to provide a bright future for the next generation.
My interviewees were relatively young when they experienced the war and if there is anyone that is definitely not to blame for it, it is children. They are the ones who end up paying for the actions of adults. There is something quite interesting about the innocence of a child amidst the corruption of war because no child should be denied their joy of life. Currently, I am 21 years old and cannot help but think, what would have happened if I had lived during the Civil War? What if I had somehow lived alongside my father, my mother, Blanca, Tío Saul, la Señora Sonia Edith, Don German, and the many other citizens of El Salvador? How would I be different than I am now? In a way, it pains me not to be able to answer these questions, maybe as much as it would to have the answers. I am not sure anymore if I am simply fortunate to not have had to live through the war. All I know is that I can just live vicariously through the stories laid out before me, and imagine what it would have been like. Still, I feel bad that my family had to go through this and not me along with them. Perhaps the war could have been avoided altogether.
It is often times not easy to put aside our differences with the contrastingly different views of another person. Yet, as Sonia Edith mentioned, humans have been gifted with the ability to communicate efficiently with one another. Our voices are the key to vent our frustrations, our needs, our desires, our hopes, our fears. As humans, listening to one another helps us see that we are caring individuals at our core, and as much as we may want to dehumanize someone because we do not like them or we do not agree with them, talking to that person can open our eyes to see things differently. It does not matter where we come from or where we are going, we should all be able to help one another. Love, care, and service should be our driving forces to be the best that we all can be. Our differences of opinion, our differences of skin color, or whatever difference it might be should be appreciated. They should not be hindrances because we are all unique and are ultimately trying to be as content as we can be. Our weapons should be our voices, not the other way around. In a room where everyone’s opinions might be different from our own, and not in a positive way, we can learn to speak up for what is right. This is what the world needs, strong characters with a desire for peace and equality. This may be wishful thinking, but humans are capable of it.