Friday, July 07, 2017

On Sacrifice

We have been hearing many people saying that we need to reclaim the forgotten virtue of sacrifice.

For an opposing view we have Ayn Rand saying that sacrifice is evil and something that only a tyrant would want.

Clearly there are situations in which Ayn Rand is wrong. There are many people who willingly sacrifice themselves for their children, or for people or causes they care about. But there are many situations in which she is right. Many people under Communism worked hard and sacrificed only to find the fruits of their labor wind up in Swiss bank accounts of the bureaucrats. People sacrifice themselves for evil causes such as Nazism and Jihadist Islam. Mafia members and gangsters sacrifice themselves for their bosses. In none of these situations is sacrifice the right thing to do.

The question to be posed is, Who is sacrificing and for what? If brave, honest people are sacrificing their lives for arrogance and incompetence of their leaders, then no, it is not rightful. If good women are sacrificing themselves for brutality and stupidity of their husbands, then no, it is not rightful at all. The outcome of the sacrifice must be a positive one rather than a negative one. Sometimes sacrifice is the right thing to do. At other times it is not.

Once again, who is sacrificing, and for what? It is legitimate to sacrifice a lower quantity for a higher quantity. It is not legitimate to sacrifice a higher quantity for a lower quantity; and this is what we see in many situations involving sacrifice.

I would sacrifice myself for my daughter. I would not sacrifice myself for George Bush or the Ayatollah. I would sacrifice myself for freedom. I would not sacrifice myself for Jehovah's Witnesses or the Church of Scientology. I would sacrifice myself for love. I would not sacrifice myself for Andrea Dworkin or Ash Patil.

In many situations the people demanding sacrifice are just what Ayn Rand said they are: Tyrants. And it becomes incumbent on all of us to figure out what sacrifices are right to make and what are not.


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