Friday, 18 January 2013

Meaningful self sacrifice



What is a self sacrifice?  Giving up a part of our possessions for a general or individual welfare is self sacrifice.
Self sacrifice is different from donation. Donation is giving a part of our possession.  Donations are done from the plenty. Some may be giving donations out of charity towards others. Nevertheless donations and self sacrifice are different.

In ancient myths, there is a story of self sacrifice of a man in connection with the fertility rites. This man is selected as the priest of the people, a year ago. He is destined to live for the next one year and sacrifice himself for the welfare of the society. Since then, he lives for that day of self sacrifice. By the end of the hot summer, frogs start croaking announcing both the death time of the priest and the coming of the rain. Rain fertilizes the land. It is time for the fertility rites. Before it starts to rain, the priest is tied naked to a cut off tree and is killed with arrows. His body bleeds covering the whole tree. The dead body of the priest is placed in a grave dug in the middle of the dry river. The dead body is covered with potential grains and sand. Within two or three days rain falls in the hills, bringing down rain water through the river. The seeds that covered the dead body sprout out. It signals fertility.

In this myth, as we have already noted, a man who was chosen as a priest of the people sacrifices his life for the general welfare.
His life was dear to him. He had nothing more worth than his life. He sacrificed his life.
He lost the most worthy thing in his life – his life.
He felt the loss. He was not giving a part of it keeping back a major portion. He gave all.
His act is a meaningful self sacrifice.

Jesus Christ also sacrificed his life for the remission of sins of the whole humanity.  He gave all he had – his life – his flesh and blood. The death of Jesus Christ is a meaningful self sacrifice.

One day, Jesus was in the synagogue watching people dropping their offerings in the treasury. Rich people threw much. A poor widow, shy of her poverty, came forward and dropped two coins. Suddenly Jesus commented on her offering as: “For all they (rich people) did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.”( Mark 12:44; KJV)

She gave out of her want and gave all her living. This is meaningful self sacrifice.

Giving life itself for the general welfare is the highest form of self sacrifice. On a lower level, giving off some of our comforts is a meaningful self sacrifice.
Comforts are not our urgent necessities. Giving some of our urgent necessities make the sacrifice not only meaningful but noble.

Many rich people give a part of their richness for the general welfare. It does not affect their life. They do not feel the giving.
Their pocket does not feel the giving. Sacrifices are what our pocket feels. We are giving a part of our life’s comforts. We have been living with it. Our life is tuned with it. We are sure to miss it. If affects our life.

Donations are a portion of our abundance; sacrifices are a part of our life.
Donations do not affect our life; sacrifices affect our life.
We do not miss what is donated; we surely miss what is sacrificed.
Donations are not dear things to our life; sacrifices are dear things to our life.

An announcement by a poor beggar that he is sacrificing his automobile is not meaningful, because he has no automobile at all.  It makes no sense in his decision to give up his automobile for the general welfare. An oath that he will never use an automobile to prove his commitment for simple life does not make any sense. Self sacrifices cannot be made on imaginary possessions.

I have seen many poor people rejecting the idea of being rich. They are pronouncing a rejection of richness only because they are not rich.

Self sacrifice is giving up our comforts for the general welfare.
It is something that our pocket feels.
We will miss it though out our life.
We will never lament over it.

Further reading:

Professor Jacob Abraham

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