Saturday, June 14, 2003


I'm exploring the definition of sacrifice. In the Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, tenth edition, sacrifice means "the giving of something precious to a diety". That is the first meaning. The third meaning, and I'll review the second in a moment, is "the destruction of something for the sake of something else".

These definitions are wide open, in the sense of what isn't defined of this word, sacrifice. What isn't defined is what "should" or "ought" to be sacrificed. There is no narrow selection of choices that one can choose from with which to sacrifice.

The definition implies that it is our choice what we offer to our diety in sacrifice. It is our choice in sacrifice what we destroy, for the sake of something else. There is an implication, that it is we who define the nature of the sacrifice.

There is a time and a place for sacrifice. We would not ask a mother to surrender food for her children, as part of a sacrifice, would we? Sacrifice is one of the oldest rituals on this planet, that the ancients sacrificed in order to please their deities, so that the deities would smile favorably on the community. Individuals gave sacrifice so the gods would smile favorable on them and their loved ones.

What do we sacrifice? Do we discern between what is necessary to our survival, and what we need to let go of, for the sake of our survival? What are we willing to let go of for the sake of our community? What are we not willing to let go of, and why?
More importantly, what do we want to save? What do we want to create?

As creatures sharing this planet, it is vital we begin to explore these questions for ourselves, and begin to learn what is really important to us, to our children, to our families, for our survival. If we don't begin to make these choices for ourselves, then others will continue to make them for us. As we know from experience, they may or may not have our best interests at heart.