Here’s a word a lot of people don’t seem to understand or at least don’t want to talk about these days, “sacrifice.” I looked up a definition and found this: “an act of giving up something valued for the sake of something else regarded as more important or worthy.”
We Americans value some very sacred things such as liberty, freedom, free speech, justice, equality and the right to worship as we please, to name just six. Thousands of our fellow citizens have fought and died to protect the things we hold dear. Whether it was a war here at home to end slavery or wars half a world away yo defeat fascism, Americans have a long and glorious record of giving up things, “valued for the sake of something else regarded as more important or worthy.”
My own parents, and probably the parents or grandparents of a lot of you reading this, gave up a lot of things they held dear n the early 1940’s. I was not alive at the time but I do know my dad’s coal mining business, which was deemed essential to the war effort, required sacrifices. He could get just enough gasoline to haul the coal to rail cars, but any other travel was not allowed.
I know my mom, like just about every other woman in the country, got used to using “oleo” in place of margarine or butter. I have a recollection of squeezing the tubes of it back and forth to mix the ingredients.
That era may have been the last time civilians were required to make sacrifices for the good of the country—— until now.
During that time, World War II, people could not buy things like appliances or cars or just about anything made of steel since steel was required for the war effort, but learning to make toast on top of a stove in a skillet instead of a toaster was a small price to pay measured against the price millions of soldiers and their families as men fought and died in Europe and the Pacific paid.
Closer to our own time thousands of men and women made enormous sacrifices to answer their country’s call to fight in first Korea and then in Viet Nam. The armed forces then were a blend of drafted soldiers and volunteers, but other than the soldiers, civilians were not asked to give up much.
Today, it seems as though the government is afraid to ask people to give up much of anything for the common good, with one exception.
Some states have asked their citizens to refrain from going to restaurants during the Covid epidemic, and some have asked those citizens to wear face masks. Not much of a sacrifice if you ask me.
Yes I miss going out to eat and if I owned a restaurant or bar I would resent having it closed, but I am sure people in the 1940’s resented the sacrifices they were required to make, but they made them for the good of their neighbors and the country. In other words, people then realized that for the good of society, for the good of liberty, they had to make those sacrifices. They knew the things they lost were temporary balanced against the things they gained which were permanent.
And wearing a mask? No I don’t enjoy it, but neither to I enjoy wearing a seat belt, but for the good of the commonwealth, that is to say for the good of society, all of us, I’ll do it. If we have to wear a mask for a year that seems to me a small price to pay for the tens of thousands of lives that will be saved. Don’t like “government” telling you want to do? Then go live where there are no speed limits, no rules about food safety, no rules to protect workers, and nothing to help people when they get too old or sick to work.
We tried that once and it did not work. Think 1929.
Why do we need rules? Simply because too many people don’t seem to be willing to do what is good for everyone, because they want to do only what feels good for themselves.
Just think a little about our history and where we would be if Americans would have been thinking about themselves.
“Sorry General Washington I don’t feel like fighting the British today. It’s cold and I’d rather stay home.” “Sorry Mr. Lincoln, I’d rather not go off to war, Maybe we should just let the Confederates alone. The slaves will have to wait.” “Sorry Mr. Roosevelt, that war in Europe don’t matter none to me, let them sort it out by themselves.”
We would still be a part of the British Commonwealth, or a divided nation with no standing in the world, or maybe folks would not mind speaking German. It took a lot of sacrifices for us to get where we are today.
So by all measures we are again fighting a war, but it is not against a foreign adversary, not against an ideology that wanted to hold on to the institution of slavey. This time we are fighting against an invisible enemy, but one that is just as deadly as fascism, or communism or imperialism.
It may go away on its own after it kills a few million citizens, but then fascism may have gone away on its own after a few million Americans were killed. We have a way of life, and if we have to make a few sacrifices to keep that way of life, so be it.
So if Americans are still Americans, if we want to save our fellow citizens from the invisible enemy, we have to put on our big boy pants and do what it is going to require to win. Don’t like wearing a mask or staying six feet away from everyone else? Too bad. Do it for the country, do it for the elderly, the young, the people who may die if they get sick. Stop your infernal whining and parading around like a tin soldier and be an American. Learn to accept some responsibility and make a sacrifice for the good of society.