Sometimes I think a little expansively. I wonder what I would be willing to sacrifice for billions of lives. Quite an astounding proposition. I have no idea how such a thing could come to pass.
People are willing to sacrifice for one. Some would offer their life to save a loved one. Others have sacrificed themselves to save a child in their charge. It’s something that one can understand. I can contemplate whether it is something I would be willing to do. Their offering is celebrated as the work of a hero.
A soldier makes many sacrifices to save his platoon or to save the neighborhood or to save the nation. Such service leads to more sacrifice than just risking their life. The soldier might give up a career, his health and well-being, and time with loved ones. It’s still understandable how and why one would do that.
To sacrifice for billions, it suddenly becomes metaphysical. Beyond sacrificing one’s life, perhaps someone sacrifices not just their life, but the promised future life in the world to come. Many people may not believe such a concept, but to others it is a concrete reality. Would an individual suffer the unimaginable to protect not just a life or a nation but rather the possibility of any future at all? Such a sacrifice would not just be to save a race or a way of life or a community.
To sacrifice for billions, one would be sacrificing for things one did not agree with, for those who do not believe the same, those who are considered in the wrong. It would be toward the goal of preserving Life overall rather than a lesser group life or lives. Through the sacrifice, one would not be able to decide who is worthy of such grace.
In the opposite direction, it’s easy to see someone sacrifice another for themselves. To murder, to maim or to select another as less worthy and with no value to preserve. It is a form of insanity, but still common.
Some are willing to sacrifice a neighborhood, a nation or some abstract group counted as valueless. The victims may be the antagonist in a delusional story. The fable says that they are a threat, or of less value and more akin to an animal than human. This kind of sacrifice takes place too often. The access to weapons that make such horror easy is considered an unalienable right.
In decades past, such violence would be unimaginable but now is an ever-present reality. Places of worship, what should be the host of life and love, now must take steps to protect themselves. Rather than offering welcome to all as a sanctuary for the lost, the faith community becomes a victim of fear and must lock their doors.
For one to sacrifice billions for some gain is, unfortunately, possible to imagine without expansive imagination. The weapons, diseases and poisons are all available to sacrifice billions. That this is imaginable is, itself, abhorrent. In past centuries, it was possible for the great powers to sacrifice communities for some cause. Now the stakes are much higher. Thankfully, the destruction of this scale is only available to a few, but is available, nonetheless.
While some are capable sacrificing billions for their insane delusions, how many are willing to sacrifice for a group they will never see?
With an open mind, one can see how they could sacrifice to save another. In faiths that revel in a sacrifice as their central tenet, too few are willing to give up something for the benefit of the stranger, the ones they disagree with and those they abhor. A sacrifice for one’s friends can be done by anyone.
One can flip the story and prevent the insane from sacrificing for their selfish benefit. That has a much lower cost than those sacrifices of a teacher or a soldier. Why is whatever necessary to save a life considered impossible? It is never brought to the table of those who can write the words that can save lives.
What kind of sacrifices will bring life rather than death?