[September 29, 2019] Ancient texts, written many centuries ago, are a window into the thinking of those who existed before modern conveniences. A common theme is a sacrifice to the immortal gods. If we are to look at these writings as a whole, the ancients were trying to tell us something. They were saying to be a better person, you must sacrifice, and you must know what to properly sacrifice.
Our modern world has freed up much of our day to do what we want. To fill this vacant time, we indulge in modern entertainment, hobbies, and the wasting of many hours on things of no real value. The modern individual is less satisfied with their life than ever before. We carry burdens around with us like a soldier with a heavy rucksack. Yet, we do little to lighten the load.
Our ancients understood the burdens of living and the struggle to be a better person, father, mother, workers, etc. This meant that anything that did not directly improve our lives had to be eliminated. If you wanted to be a good father, for example, you had to also gather food, clothing, and shelter for your family. Drunkenness, laziness, lying, seeking revenge, envying others, and other of the Seven Deadly Sins distract us from fulfilling our mission to be that better person.
The sacrifice is to rid ourselves of those “evils.” That sacrifice is not easy. Neither was the sacrifice of an animal to the ancients an easy thing. To give up what we value is no easy task. But it is not wasted either. Giving up smoking, drinking, lying, etc. makes us better. It may be fun hanging out on the corner with friends after 2 am, but it gives us nothing in return but grief and continues us down the path of personal destruction.
To sacrifice means that we are giving up something of ourselves today so that we can have a better tomorrow. The biggest problem is that we don’t often know what to sacrifice properly. The human condition is to always travel to something better. Get a good-paying job, move to a new city, attend a community meeting, and so forth. These make us better in that we become more satisfied with both ourselves and with others.
There are things we do sacrifice that we should not. A couple of days ago, for example, I wrote about a good friend JC Ayers who sacrificed his health to spend more time with his family and running his restaurant. His life was cut short, and his failing health was a factor in his painful death.
The ancients knew that sacrifice was the way to a better tomorrow. Our modern world tells us that there is no need for sacrifice. Hard works, devotion to others, standing by your family when the chips are down … all are sacrifices that have remained unchanged for millennia.