Between Veteran's Day, a book I am reading called the Power of Half (a family gives up half of their wealth to give it to others) and the "giving" season of Christmas upon us, the subject of sacrifice has been popping up in my life repeatedly for the last week or so. So I will do what I do when I need to empty my brain to clear space for the important things like keeping the family calendar up to date and making sure the kids are fed - I will blog.
The sacrifices of the members of the military are obvious. I have great respect for all they do and all they risk. I obviously didn't ever join the military, but that is something I can conceive of having done if my life had been different. But I didn't, and I know I can't even begin to understand how it feels to dedicate your life to preserving the well-being of an entire nation, knowing that you are putting yourself in harm's way.
But to me there is something very emotionally different about sacrificing yourself and sacrificing someone you love.
I have never read the Bible from beginning to end. I get bored right around the begats and give it up. Plus the Old Testament is full of really depressing stories - the warm fuzzy of Jesus is definitely missing and with all the teeth gnashing and punishment I tend to move on to happier books. Like The Very Hungry Caterpillar or Spot Goes to the Circus.
Anyway...if I ever were to actually make it past Chapter 11 in the book of Genesis, I would be able to read the the story of Abraham and Isaac again. Every time this particular story comes up in a Bible study or a sermon or Sunday school, I freak out. What are the chances that I am marching my kid up a mountain, getting a fire going and tying my kid to the altar to sacrifice him? And when little Johnny says "where is the lamb for the sacrifice?", what are the chances that I am going to say "don't worry, little Johnny. God will be providing that shortly. In the meantime, hop up here on this pile of sticks and hang out while I light them on fire." I can tell you the chances - ZERO! Now the reason I am so disturbed by this is because I realize this makes me not only unwilling to sacrifice something I love, but I am also pretty sure I would disobey a direct order from God. I like to think I would be obedient if God were to appear before me and issue a direct command, but I certainly can't say with any conviction that I would gather my kid and my fire and head out the door.
As if the two above scenarios aren't enough to make me tremble, I had to go and read a book that contains a story about Zell Kravinsky. This man took the majority of his $45 MILLION dollar worth (that HE earned through real estate sales) and donated them to various causes. Then he donated a kidney to A RANDOM STRANGER just because so many people are waiting for kidney transplants. His wife and kids evidently think he is a little off his rocker and I can't say I disagree with them. But the real kicker is this...this man believes so thoroughly in the fact that all people are truly of equal value that when asked by NY TIMES magazine if he would allow his child to die if it would enable a thousand children to live, he said yes.
Just in case you missed it the first time, when asked if he would allow his child to die if it would enable a thousand children to live, Kravinsky said yes.
Indeed, he has said he would permit his child to die even if this enabled only two other children to live.
And I have to say that I believe that a guy who gives up the vast majority of his wealth and a kidney might just actually mean it.
This got me to thinking...what is my answer to that question? Even if you don't have kids, you could easily replace "child" with "Mom", "spouse" or "dear friend". How many of us are really willing to give up even one thing we love even if it means helping a whole lots of other people?
Kind of makes the measly donations I make feel pathetic when I think about what it would really mean to sacrifice. There is a big difference between the way I give (resulting in a feel-good moment for me with the added bonus of making someone elses life a little easier) and giving up a REAL piece of me, emotionally or physically.
Gotta go. There are calendars to update and kids to feed.