Qualities of Love II
The words love and sacrifice bring to mind many images remembered from years of education and from moments spent watching television and movies. The two words are not often combined, but they are, nevertheless, united. Remarkable sacrifices do not ordinarily come about without love having secured a stronghold in the heart of the individual. Dramatic sacrifices shake the foundations of your emotion, time, finances, health, relationships, body and life. Motivation distinguishes sacrifices that are made over time and have tremendous transformative impact. It may include taking courses to improve your professional status or classes in yoga and meditation to improve your physical and emotional well being. Due to the nature of sacrifice, reflection illuminates them more poetically and philosophically, and their true value and potential are more clearly understood with the passage of time.
Throughout history, wars have created heroes and heroines who have sacrificed their lives for a comrade or their country. Joan of Arc fought for France and was captured by the British. At the age of nineteen, she was burned at the stake and sacrificed her life for her country. She was later exonerated by the Pope and canonized.
Susan B. Anthony was arrested in 1872 after successfully voting. She was found guilty of breaking the law and sent to prison. During the same period of time, many women demonstrated to bring attention to the women’s suffrage movement. Less than a century ago two hundred women demonstrated in front of the White House to awaken our nation to the fact women still had not been given the privilege of the vote. The protestors were imprisoned and force fed to combat their hunger strike. Suffragettes sacrificed dearly to acquire respect the right to vote and be part of this nation’s governing bodies.
Women were not the only ones to make sacrifices in America. Men suffered as they banded together to create unions to acquire better working conditions and pay. Companies hired organizations and thugs to discourage unionizing by clubbing the employees. Police were often involved in the beatings as a means to break up the “unlawful activities.” Men sacrificed their bodies and paychecks to acquire what they desired and deserved.
As a nation, we fought to abolish slavery. During the years of war between the north and south, thousands sacrificed their lives, limbs and sanity to insure that all men were created equal regardless of the color of their skin. Two centuries later Dr. Martin Luther King fought for social justice for people of color and sacrificed his life for this cause.
Another wonderful example of sacrifice is Gandhi. He, like the suffragettes, went on hunger strikes to bring worldwide attention to the English dominance of India. His efforts and sacrifices brought about India’s freedom from England.
The insidious actions of deadbeat dads not providing support to their children force mothers to work multiple jobs. Mothers sacrifice time with their children to put food on the table and clothes on them by working. They are not present to mother their children; they are working so the family can exist. Mothers come home weary and give what is left inside them to their children. Many nights, mothers cry in desperation not knowing how they will ever create a better life for themselves and their children. They may never use the word sacrifice in relation to the loss of precious time with their children, but that is exactly what they have done.
Sacrifices in the name of love can be well thought out, providing information on whether it is beneficial to embark on the journey or if it would be a disaster for you and those peripherally involved in the process. There are sacrifices you rarely give any deep contemplation and are executed with little effort. The spontaneous sacrifices catch you by surprise and the instantaneous decision is committed and the sacrifice is made without any forethought.
Further examination reveals some sacrifices are made with great deliberation and hesitancy because the hardship is recognized as well as what has to be endured. The sacrifice can be arduous, tormenting and excruciatingly painful. Having made the sacrifice, what remains is the aftermath of your decision.
In the last few decades, there has been a rash of terrorism perpetrated by fanatics. The terrorists are influenced by extremist leaders who are ignorant of the true teachings of their own religions. The terrorists love their God and religion and willingly sacrifice their lives, believing they will be rewarded for their horrendous acts in heaven. The problem with their irrational thinking and action is that they take other people’s lives while sacrificing their own.
Viewing terrorism from the rational and objective side, it simply does not merit any honor or glory, when considered outside of the terrorist group. If a terrorist sacrifices his life as a demonstration intended to focus our attention on a form of injustice, it might be considered commendable and heroic. To inflict death and mayhem on unsuspecting people, however, is a despicable crime and an insane act.
Decisions by individuals of ancient civilizations to sacrifice their lives benefited their clan, religion or society. Sacrificing one’s life was conducted in the Mesoamerican, Aztec, Scandinavian and Minoan religions and cultures. These cultures selected an individual expressly for making the ultimate sacrifice of his life. In some cultures, the person was cognizant of the reason he was chosen and considered it a privilege, whether it was to appease the gods or even for the continued success of the crops. In other societies the sacrifice of life was unwillingly given.
A person can inadvertently grow less attentive and the unexpected sacrifice of family comes about when a man seeks to break from standardized religious practices in order to realize his Creator, or to know himself. He may also sacrifice his religious belief at the same time, for it no longer sustains him. During the journey, his wife may not hold the same zeal for spiritual knowledge and a rift develops so wide it impacts their marriage. It is possible what once interested him no longer does. His quest for Creator’s grace is so consuming that he searches for a group or person who understands his fervor. Quite likely the only solution is to be released from the bonds of marriage in order to continue his journey.
A certainty in life is that somewhere along the way we will all make sacrifices to benefit others and our selves.