Pep Talk: “Courageously Sacrifice”

May 29, 2017

Memorial Day 2017. For the record, the holiday started after the Civil War and, as a nation placed flowers on fallen soldier’s graves, was known as “Decoration Day.” Not surprisingly, the cranium focuses on the word “Sacrifice.”

Your knucklehead scribe grabs a torn and tattered Oxford American dictionary. It has been a constant companion for almost 30 years of writing. From childhood days of playing Scrabble, I’ve always loved the meaning of words and tried to respect them.
On page 595 of the 1980 edition is the definition: “The giving up of a valued thing for the sake of another that is more important or worthy.” As our nation honors those who, in military conflict, have given up their lives, the mind wonders, what present-day Americans might “sacrifice” for the betterment of the good ol’ USA? We’re dangerously divided at this time. Sorry, can’t resist. What could we sacrifice in order to build a stronger cord to one another? Regardless of our race, religion or socio-economic status? We need innovative ideas.

Back in the 1940‘s, as a nation jumped into World War II after the Pearl Harbor attack, a system of rationing was implemented. It limited the amount of certain goods a person could purchase. Supplies such as gasoline, butter, sugar and canned milk were rationed and diverted to the war effort. War also disrupted trade, limiting the availability of some goods. For example, the Japanese Imperial Army controlled the Dutch East Indies (today’s Indonesia) from March 1942 to September 1945, creating a shortage of rubber. It affected American production. My 81-year-old mom remembers those days. Historians (Tom Brokaw especially) consider this time of “giving up valued things” as our country’s “Greatest Generation.”
Why not bring it back? Obviously, our country is different today than seven decades ago. Far more diverse and, sadly, more fractured. But there is hope. There are wonderful stories of sacrifice. I heard one recently from a young man in the Denver Rescue Mission’s “Next Step” program. He’s active in A Stronger Cord. As we visited he shared of, while homeless himself, seeing a woman, homeless and without shoes. “I gave her mine knowing I could find others.” He sacrificed something of value for the sake of another. It has benefits. The 23-year-old Denver native continued. “It’s been amazing. Shortly after, I was given a pair of well-fitting black boots. I’ve been sober and growing in faith ever since. I have hope. Those boots have good mojo.” Way cool. That hope started with sacrifice for another.

Could it be? The great societal challenges before us? Might a sacrificial spirit lessen them? For example, offering our time to encourage the isolated, vulnerable and displaced? We have too many in our communities. Ration our time spent online, Netflix binge watching or gawking at mobile devices? Invest in others living on the margins?

Memorial Day in America. We, a patchwork of people living in tumultuous times. Let’s ration indifference and judgement. Courageously sacrifice them for empathy and action. Each quite important and worthy.

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