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The falsehood of Sacrifice – Part 4

It’s more honorable to live for self

While it’s healthy to consider others’ sacrifice and kindness upon us, it’s dangerous to think we are doing the same for others. If I imagine I am living for others, I tend to invite hubris and live an inauthentic life. Instead, if I am honest about taking care of my needs, I’d likely be humble and grateful to those who help me.

However, if I convince myself that I am a great leader who sacrifices for others, I’ll be filled with ‘I’ and overlook the kindness others are showering upon me abundantly. Also, my ‘sacrifice’ compels me to imagine my goodness – a sickening holier than thou mentality. George Bernard Shaw knew what he was saying when he observed, “Self-sacrifice enables us to sacrifice other people without blushing.”

Three decades ago, I saw one famous cricket player accused of match-fixing and bribery. I remember, as an impressionable teenager, the incident affected me profoundly, especially when the man broke down denying the allegations. He declared, “I lived, breathed and played for my country and have carried the burden of the Nation for so many years. I shall take sannyasa- accept renunciation by leaving family and society- if the charges are not withdrawn.”

I remember my dad’s cynical observation then, “He played not for the Nation but himself. Every player serves his needs, and if it happens to please the countrymen, that is welcome. But the essential motivation is his passion for the sport and not his service to the country.”

He chided loudly into space, to no one in particular, “Accept it and be gracious. You do things because you want to, and not because you want to sacrifice.”

Today, in my own life this rings true. I do things because I want to and I am glad I can serve others as well. A valuable lesson I learned during that fateful village trip: to live for oneself with gratitude is more honorable than to live for our false ego with the illusion of service and sacrifice. Let’s remember the wise words of Stanislaw Jerzy Lec, one of the most influential poets of the twentieth century, “Mankind deserves sacrifice, but not of mankind!”

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