Monday, October 15, 2007

Sacrifices – are they necessary?

I’ve been thinking about sacrifices – things that I do that I would consider a sacrifice, but others might not see them as sacrifices at all. I guess each of us would have a different idea of what a sacrifice means.

My initial question is are sacrifices necessary? What are there purposes: spiritual edification, devotional expressions, practicality? I don’t have an answer. Just questioning the necessity, and their necessity for me. Do I do make them to better myself, the world, or is it a way in which I deprive myself of something I think I can’t or shouldn’t have? Is the latter a thinly disguised punishment?

Are sacrifices a form of deprivation? One wouldn’t look at an animal sacrifice that way; well, not a personal one – unless you considered that animal your property. But it’s the animal’s life you’re sacrificing ultimately. You gain from that animal’s death if you are of that mind that if you do, it will benefit you in that god’s eyes. I imagine that was the thinking of our ancestors (and for those who still practice…).

When Jesus made his sacrifice (I don’t know much about Christianity but from what I understand, isn’t that what Christians believe?) was that a turning point in human history? Taking it upon yourself to make your own sacrifice instead of choosing a victim – whether it be a human or an animal – did that set a new moral ground? I’ll leave the answer to theologians and sociologists. However, I wonder about it because I wonder how the notion of self-sacrifice, to live a good life, pervades our lives. And is it necessary?

Part of me says sacrifice is necessary when I unplug my coffee machine every day. What kind of sacrifice is that, one might ask? Well, it’s my programmable coffee maker. I initially bought it as a bribe to myself to get up early and exercise. Hearing the percolating, bubbly coffee brewing in the morning (I admit to being a coffee addict, that’s another story) as I tried to crawl out of bed actually got me out of bed. I love hearing it in the morning. I’m not a morning person, nor do I have anyone in house, besides me, to make the coffee so even though I set it up at night, there’s something about it brewing right on time that makes me feel like I’m being cared for. I don’t have to fumble in the morning to make it – it’s done for me. A coffee servant, if you will. But what do I love more – saving the environment or me? Like my VCR, I unplug my electrical appliances that I don’t need and I have compact fluorescent bulbs.

So, for now, saving electricity on things I really don’t need has won out. Not so much for coffee filters. For years I used the mesh filters – a good ten. But for some reason, in this apartment, something I cannot explain, the spray from the coffee filter when I dump the grounds in the trash gets everywhere. The coffee grounds get all over the entire cabinet underneath my sink and it’s pain to clean. I either ignored it when I lived in my Northern California home or didn’t notice it or it didn’t happen. Either way, I made the decision to go with paper filters. And I love it. I know, I’m wasting trees and adding to the landfill until whenever time the filters, if they do, biodegrade. However, I love the ease of throwing the filters in the trash without having to waste time washing them out – worrying about grinds going into my sink, backing it up (again, this didn’t happen up North – who knows why). I accept this level of wastefulness. I guess I could compromise and use the mesh filter again every once in awhile. But the mere fact I actually cut myself some slack in my rather strict eco-mindful living was something. So this is where I began to question sacrifice. Maybe it’s to ease my consciousness but there’s something about the scarcity mentality that makes me question it too. If I’m always sacrificing some kind of enjoyment because of lack of funds, it’s not good for the environment, etc., what does that mentality do overall to my psych?. This isn’t about going 4-wheeling in the forests with an SUV. That type of behavior I could never condone. It’s about what I won’t do for myself, like not buying anything new because I don’t want to be a materialist – or waste environmental resources – because all those “other” people are doing it and if we keep doing that, won’t we run out of everything?@!

I guess what I’m trying to reform is the thinking that I can’t do something because everyone else is doing it – because they’re fucking up the planet – and then get resentful because I don’t let myself do anything. When I first moved back to L.A., maybe I relented to societal pressure, or maybe I just wanted to put myself first, but I actually allowed myself to go shopping again – for new things. I bought sunglasses that were more than 20 dollars (meaning not on sale) and I bought trendy purses knowing that they would be out of style in a year. What happened? The sunglasses never stayed on my face properly and I ended up selling them at a garage sale for 5 dollars. I gave the purses away to Goodwill after also trying to sell them at that garage sale. Since then, I invested, after many of hours of search, in a classic purse that I love and will use for 5 years. I bought another pair of sunglasses, about the same price as the other, that stay on my face and I’ve worn them for 2 years. What I learned from that experience is that I don’t really care about current trends. I’d rather buy classic things that will last. But if now and again, I actually splurge on something ridiculous, it’s not going to end the world. And I hope that person who got my Ray Bans for 5 bucks is really enjoying them and they aren’t slipping off her face. I guess what I learned also is that I don’t always have to be the person recycling, initially.

What I’m trying to get away from is fear based thinking, that if I buy something I like, the world will suffer because I thought only of myself. Is this really true? Is the Universe really set up this way? That's another discussion for another time. For now, I think now I’ll subscribe to the god of have – of freedom and happiness, abundance and success. You won’t see me driving a hummer now, nor will I – ever. There’s a good reason Gore won a Noble Peace Prize. But I’m starting to be less judgmental, like assuming the worst of people in trendy clothes and expensive cars. I wonder why they let others (designers, magazine editors) tell them what to wear and when. But that’s their choice, isn’t it. I’d rather spend time on things that interest me more. And again who am I to judge? I’m the woman who’s throwing away coffee filters. Ah, the freedom!

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