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Self-sacrifice is generally considered a virtue. This is the idea of giving of yourself so another may benefit. Very noble. Very uncomfortable for most people most of the time.
Similar ideas are Dying to Self. Or being a Slave to Others. Again, the idea that you esteem others better than yourself and give of your resources for their benefit.
Very noble. Highly satisfying! Distinctly painful at times.
This self-sacrificial giving to others hurts because often times we must dip into our own limited resources to have something to give. Whether those resources are money, time, physical energy, emotional capacity to bear suffering, patience or interest, we are finite people. We only go so far.
So what do we do, we who value self-sacrificial giving and serving of others? Particularly if we want to do this as a long-term sustainable lifestyle?
I am a young man of few years, but I think I have an idea!
Sacrifice must be mutual. Giving must be in community. Serving must be relational.
I give to you even at great cost to myself. I can do this perpetually if I can trust that someone else will be doing the same for me. In a community where every member diligently gives(or we could say invests) generously of their resources, every member should also receive abundantly of that community’s resources.
By community, I am talking about a faith community, church, sangha or otherwise. If this principle were to be played out in a neighborhood or city setting that would be great also, but for sure we could see it in our extended circles of friends.
This then presents the further challenge for each of us who aspires to be noble and self-sacrificing and a slave to those we love.
How well do we receive love in return? Can we ask for help? Can we admit weakness and need? How well do we let others serve us when it is our turn to be served?
And further, what is to be said of the community where mutual service is not happening? Where only a few people give all their resources to serve everyone else and no one gives in return? I contend that in that community, self-sacrifice is no longer safe and should be limited or suspended until the practice of self-sacrifice can be embraced by the majority of the community.
What do you think?