Memorial Day musings

Memorial Day is about respecting sacrifices.  That word, sacrifice, is a rare one these days.  Perhaps the only arena in which we personally experience sacrifice is that of parenting.  And maybe dieting.  We shun the concepts that relate living itself to sacrifice:  the old values of giving your life for your country, or giving up your fatherhood for your job, or giving up your creative potential for work that earns you money but brings unhappiness – we increasingly see through these unhealthy dictates of oppression.

Without this ancient respect for selflessness, though, how do we refrain from becoming self-involved to our detriment? How do we promote compassion and devotion to making everyone’s life better, if we drop the idea of sacrifice?

It used to be that humanity understood happiness as an endangered resource. The ease and comfort of 21st century life, with its amazing technology and global awareness; as well as the blending of quantum theory, and Eastern and Western spiritual philosophies, have consorted to produce the nascent idea that happiness may after all be available in unlimited quantities.

But there’s a hitch. We discover that we are not capable of lasting happiness unless it is grounded in compassion. So we do find our salvation, after all, through others. The difference is that we use our gifts, we do not deny them, in serving others. We think of it as self-development rather than self-sacrifice. We yearn to live well for others, not to die well for them.

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