Humanity has reached a state of evolution that allows the individual to lay down his own life and personal interests purposefully for the good of others. This is not just some mindless self-sacrifice as an ant may do for the colony or a mother animal may do for her offspring. Certainly we understand those sacrifices.
This is something else; an intentional sacrifice that may not produce any apparent positive result but regardless is still made. This is the self-sacrifice made by a humanitarian who spends decades in some war-torn country in the empty hope that positive change may eventually come. This is the self-sacrifice of peaceful revolutionaries who stand firmly against a violent and oppressive regime. This is the self-sacrifice of a saintly figure who proudly accepts death at the hands of those who fear truth and change. This is even the self-sacrifice of someone who gives blood regularly, or volunteers at a soup kitchen, or makes anonymous donations to a cause in which they believe. It is the self-sacrifice to give with no intention of receiving something in return.
There are those who’ve made the point that such self-sacrifice in unnatural, that it may be symptomatic of some deeply buried selfishness. Ayn Rand believed it is best for the individual to “exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself”. I do not totally disagree nor do I belittle the mind of such a powerful philosopher but still, I feel she missed some key element of what it means to be human. The problem with such a statement is that it supposes each individual exists inside a vacuum, a personal sphere that can be made completely self-sufficient and autonomous. This concept at best should be questioned and at worst is impossible.
Humans are social creatures, as can be seen even now in the rise of our social-media connections even as our physical connections break down.
Humanity has no choice but to interact with humanity. The individual will inevitable make a choice to facilitate growth. Either the individual will fuel their own growth from the energy of others or will fuel the growth of others from their own energy. There is a third option, or rather a middle ground, and that is to pursue an equilibrium where all individuals cooperate, each providing their own personal skill-sets in coordination with others so that society as a whole may grow through the personal growth of each individual.
Of course this is an ideal and one that seems impossible but in such impossibility is where the self-sacrificing individual hears a call to act. If there are those who will unfairly take from the effort of others there must be those who will give to others of their own effort so that balance may be achieved. Sacrifice must exist because a debt exists. As long as debt is created sacrifice must come behind.
It is worth mentioning the Christ Figure here simply because at the very heart of such a figure is the concept of complete sacrifice for the erasure of all debt. If there ever was such a figure those who follow his ideal must live as he did, not because his sacrifice failed to erase such debt but because such sacrifice put into motion the final stages of a never-ending cosmic plan to destroy debt at its root, that of greed and arrogance.
I recognize such a point requires belief and faith, two things that cannot be forced upon anyone and so I will briefly approach the concept of sacrifice one other way, that of apparent kindness and cooperation between different species of animals. A certain nature video comes to mind where a young gazelle is wounded by crocodiles in a river. This video can be found on YouTube I believe if you are interested.
The pitiful gazelle flounders in the muddy water in a desperate attempt to reach shore. Just as the reptiles close in for the kill a huge hippopotamus rises from the water to frighten the carnivores away. Hippopotamus are exceptionally dangerous animals and are cause of more human deaths than any other large African animal and in this particular video it seems at first the hippo is simply claiming the gazelle for its own meal. Just as the horror of such a prospect takes hold we witness an incredible turn of events. The hippo carefully pushes the gazelles to shore and up onto the bank where the massive animal simply waits and watches over the gazelle.
Sadly the injuries suffered by the juvenile are too much to bear and it eventually passes but in its final moments it is comforted by the hippo who even continues to watch over its body after death.
Do we not feel some pride and joy rise up within us when we see some animal lend aid to another? Do we not feel the rise of love and admiration when we witness kindness that is not human in origin? How much more should we feel when humanity lends aid to humanity?
It may not be natural for one animal to help another in need but it is good! While we argue whether or not our desire to lend humanitarian aid is foolish socialism or our duty as conscious beings we miss the point that such actions make the world a better place for us all.
It is true that Society is only as strong as its weakest member and yet must be better than its best. This paradox is integral to our reality as humanity. Without these qualities there can be no real hope for progress.
What I find odd is that while we as individuals may make such a sacrificial choice for the good of others we as a species have created systems of supply, something that should exist for the aid all, which refuse to lay themselves down for the good of humanity.
Two of our most precious systems for care, our medical and food systems, are slave to our monetary system while we allow our monetary system to be so grossly inflated as to burst when we need it most, separating us from our access to health. We allow bureaucratic red tape to stall new developments and inventions far beyond the time of our need for them while we allow the continued subsidization of inferior technology. We are worried about war and so we fuel the machine of war. We continue to support governmental systems that have no interest in our benefit while arguing over the meager scraps they throw to us.
These systems which are meant to benefit us have ceased to do so and instead been engineered to benefit a hierarchy whose pinnacle is kept out of sight for the majority of humanity.
Our systems are parasites upon us. We’ve created an evolving form that is opposed to our own good. Are we not smart enough to reverse this? Have we engineered our own extinction? Or will we find some new mode of supply and support that might bring us closer as a species to the ideal of cooperative societal growth?
I do not know what such systems may look like but I do know the first step must be to question these parasitic systems we currently suffer under. This is not about us versus them or the 99% against the 1%. This is about the good of the whole of mankind and how mankind might throw off these self-forged shackles of a system that has no interest in our continued growth as a species.
Why should we consciously support some entity that siphons off our hard work and endless effort? Why should we continue to feed some ravenous man-made creature when it does not serve us any benefit? Certainly we were not first aware of what we created but now that it is fully formed and draining us we must recognize our mistake and take responsibility for our actions.
We at least must seriously begin to ponder our situation and how we might find freedom once more because we are not free now.