Everything Good is Built on Sacrifice

Animals to not build civilizations.

Plato might say it’s because they lack the capacity for speech. Language is what civilizes man. That may be true, but don’t think it’s complete.

Sacrifice is what builds good things. Animals can and sometimes do make sacrifices. A mother chimp may risk its life for its child. But for the most part, these are reactive. There is a short time-horizon in the animal kingdom, and the kind of sacrifice based on the imaginings of long-term or even multi-generational plans are not found.

Animals do not appear to have a drive for self-improvement. They improve if conditions demand it, or if biology dictates it. Humans have this drive in spades. And to get healthier, stronger, smarter, kinder, or wealthier, we have to sacrifice.

To have children, friends, or careers, we have to sacrifice. To build houses or businesses we have to sacrifice. To create art or humor we have to sacrifice.

We are able to see in the near-term mini “deaths” – to temporary instincts and impulses – the greater life that can spring from it.

This is why religious traditions have always had sacrifice at their heart. They are laying out the pattern of reality, acting as the base layer by showing with symbols what is always true at every other layer. If our hearts and minds aren’t trained and conditioned to sacrifice as the foundation, we’ll never build great edifices.

This sacrifice used to take the form of murdering other humans or mutilating oneself. This is a dark and twisted form of sacrifice – the inevitable result of attempting to turn sacrifice from a precondition for a good life into a magical mechanism for gaining power over others.

Christs perfect sacrifice broke these warped versions and consummated the other less dark but still feeble forms of sacrifice humans looked to to align themselves properly with reality. He aligned everything. We, by participating in His sacrifice, align our own hearts and take part in the alignment of the whole cosmos.

As all great truths, it’s fractal. We can see how sacrificing a little spending now leads to greater savings and investment for greater future gains. The same principle is at play beneath the entire universe. Beginning each day by participating in the sacrifice that undergirds them all is the best way to fix our aim and move in the right direction.