Friday, December 7, 2012

Sacrifice Isn't Always Shared

Shared sacrifice is supposed to mean that everyone is involved, everyone gives a little, everyone gives up a little, all for the collective good.

It doesn’t always work.

Perhaps it is designed that it doesn’t always work.

Often, shared sacrifice means those with the least, the least power, the least resources, the least voice are often the ones left to make the largest sacrifice.  It is true for corporations (look at Hostess that simply closed down all the manufacturing plants and blamed the union workers who simply wanted a fair and living wage, only to turn around in bankruptcy court and give the CEO and upper management unprecedented wages); it is true for politics (President Obama won the election decidedly, yet the GOP is trying to strangle the necks of all the elderly, poor, working class, and people of color by willingly, again, allowing the nation to be destroyed financially so they can score political points with the 2% who refuse to pay their fair share); and finally, it is true in marriage (spouses who give up their careers and aspirations because the other spouse’s career and aspirations move them too many times). 

Shared sacrifice isn’t always shared.

I thought about this the other day when I was became very depressed while reading Ernest Gaines’ book, A Lesson B Dying.  In the book, the two central characters are faced with insurmountable emotional challenges.  One, Jefferson, was deemed a hog, much less than the man he is or even a dog, and sentenced to die.  The other, Grant, educated, young, and eyes wide open in 1946 Louisiana, facing the discrimination that his still yet position as a black man in the south renders him less than human in the eyes of the illiterate Sherriff.  The plantations in the Louisiana parish were the backbone of the wealth enjoyed by those in the Big House, built on the backs of the least.

 Sacrifice is not often shared equally.

What is to be done about the inequality?

It can sometimes we rectified with politics and business, enough consumer and voter backlash will bring those inequalities to light and force a change.  It takes longer and more to rectify it in families where sacrifice is part of the existence.

Parents sacrifice for the dreams of their children.  Spouses sacrifice for the dreams of each other. 

Sacrifice is not always shared. Simple. Necessary. True.

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