Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Noble Sacrifice -- Or Justifying What You Were Going to Do Anyway

Do we, as culture, still know what sacrifice means?

In the case of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, it meant walking everywhere ... from December 5, 1955, to December 20, 1956. 380 days of worn out shoes and lost jobs. That is a sacrifice.

Last Friday was National Buy Nothing Day. But how many people "participated" in that, who had been planning on going out and spending all day doing Black Friday shopping? Or was this, as I suspect, merely an opportunity to pat oneself on the back for doing what you planned anyway, staying home away from the hordes? (Don't even get me started on the economic class issues this brings up ...)

And I just read an article about women who are purportedly not having babies because of the potential impact on the planet.

I am a bit cynical, you see, because the persons mentioned did not go on to adopt children. Which tells me that these were not people aching to hold a child to their chests. These were folks who didn't want to have children anyway. But now, they have such a noble reason for it!

And then there are those emails that come around like clockwork, proclaiming that a certain day is set aside for no one to gas up their car. That'll teach the oil companies!

If you're really going to sacrifice, my hat is off to you. If you didn't spend last Friday, and aren't going to spend at all for Christmas, prefering to give homemade gifts or forgo gift-giving entirely, more power to you.

And if you are going to walk everywhere, or adopt rather than procreate, or what-have-you, well, then, kudos for you.

But patting yourself on the back for something you were going to do anyway, for your own selfish reasons ... oh puleeeaze.

You really think that if they'd just boycotted the buses for one day, things would have changed?


Ms. Theologian said...

The notion of sacrifice seems very powerful to me, and I think I agree in the direction I think you were going (that many of us don't want to truly sacrifice because it would make us uncomfortable in some way).

On the other hand, I feel like periodically I try things (like not buying anything from China, or buy nothing day), and get criticism lobbed at me that I'm not really sacrificing anything (or I'm being classist or discriminating against Chinese or whatever). So I guess I feel that the sacrifice can really only be known to the the story with the women choosing to abort or not have children...there must be more going on there....the reporting seemed so weirdly biased.

My 0.02.

Lizard Eater said...

I agree with you, Ms. Theo. It's a cliched anecdote (but cliches become cliches for a reason), but the "starfish" story is powerful to me. "To that one, I made a difference."

So I guess sometimes it comes down to what is in your heart. And being honest with yourself.

JMB said...

Until I really thought about overpopulation issues, all I could think about was having a child. At 28 I decided to be childless by choice, no matter how much I wanted one. When the bio-clock threatened to stop chiming, I almost let go of this; almost had a child, but I rebounded.

I do not, and have not shopped on Black Friday for years, a protest to our consumer based culture. I give Xmas presents, but most of what I give are things I've picked up throughout the year.

We conserve more and more each year. We cozy under blankets while relaxing in the front of the TV, and keep the thermo turned down. We only wash full loads (of anything). We mulch our leaves. We have a battery-powered mower and other yard tools.

The list goes on...