Carol and I had another relevant discussion last night in which I realized how arbitrary and illusory are my values. My question last night was, “At what level of value does a sacrifice become acceptable?” Her response was an epiphany for me, “Any level – because how can you place a value on a dream?” That is, how can you say that one dream is more valuable than another – or one aspect of a dream more important than any other aspect? You can’t! All aspects are equally subjective and therefore irrelevant to value.
First, let me define value –
“the regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something.” (Google)
To which, I ask, “According to who?” That is, who assigns that value? Who determines “the importance, worth, or usefulness of something”?
To the concept of sacrifice – according to Wikipedia, the word, sacrifice, comes to us from the Latin sacrificus, which combines the concepts sacra (sacred things) and facere (to do or perform).
Doing sacred things = Sacrifice
What makes some activity sacred? Sacredness sets some persons, places, or things, of more value than others – thus making them “sacred” and due special treatment. Specialness is the fundamental concept involved in such valuations.
Might sacrifice make some more worthy than others?
This, of course, is based on a Western concept of intrinsic value – the concept that everything has a value that can be used for trade. Essentially, trade involves giving up one thing of value to gain another of at least as much value. Applying this concept to people has given us such practices as slavery, bigotry, hate, war, and genocide.
“There is no success without sacrifice. The higher the level of leadership you want to reach, the greater the sacrifices you will have to make. To go up, you have to give up.” (John Maxwell, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership)
This, in turn is based on the concept of balance or loss and gain – “For everything you lose, you gain something; and for everything you gain, you lose something.” Everything has a cost and so one must pay to get. Sacrifice represents the loss or cost part of the formula:
Trade = Balance = Gain – Loss = Retail price – Overhead cost
To sacrifice something in order to gain something else, one must apply value to each “thing” considered. In First Degree Illumination, this appears as Justice.
Returning to Carol’s interjection —
What if there is no objective value? That everything is of the same value – and thus making value irrelevant? What if Syndrome was on to something when he said:
“And when everyone’s super, no one will be.” (from the movie, “The Incredibles”)
What if the ultimate sacrifice is simply to recognize the irrelevance of sacrifice and the impossibility of my system of values that separates, grades, and judges dream characters at the expense of awakening to wholeness?
I wonder – when value is irrelevant… what then?