Extolling sacrifice

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If there is anything all the different political leaders and groups here are unanimous about – it is the SACRIFICE, and its importance for their politics. This is why word ‘sacrifice’ has become as if the flag-post of the entire political discourse here -- so much so that past experiences as well as future hopes and possibilities are weighed in reference to the “sacrifices” of the people. “Our party/our people/our cadre have sacrificed so much for …!”

No one could dispute the significance of ‘sacrifices’ for the success of any political movement. However, in Kashmir context, this term has been relegated to mere cliché that so impressively dots the political speeches – particularly during election times -- but in reality means nothing for those using it without fail. Let’s ask all political leaders across the board – “what have you done with the peoples’ sacrifices?” And by the way, who are they counseling to “remain united to safeguard the sacrifices”?

“Change” and “freedom” from the trying and testing status quo is no doubt a cherished dream and ultimate aim of the ordinary, the have-nots. But it is certainly not a priority of the political haves. They are already better-off -- free, enjoying unmatched economic freedoms with which they can, and they do buy and ensure all other freedoms. Anyone on top of the political and economic ladder would certainly doesn’t want to come down. Common political sense has it that the status-quo suits them and they are enjoying best of both worlds, and then indulging in hollow rhetorical jingoism once in a while to ensure they don’t fall short of a certain minimum of professed popular support.

It is unfortunate that those who claim to be leaders here have over the years become habitual of glorifying people’s sacrifices, their people’s physical and mental trauma as if it were popular achievements. This is why the word ‘sacrifice’ finds increased coinage in their vocabulary. Everyone is seen exalting sacrifices to claim that he and his group is the ‘real representative’ of the “peoples’ sacrifices”. This has been going on endlessly here.

By the way, a little bit of research into the world ‘sacrifice’ reveals that it means offering of something, animate or inanimate, in a ritual procedure which establishes, or mobilizes, a relationship of mutuality between the one who sacrifices (whether individual or group) and the recipient -- who may be human but more often is of another order – God. But in any case, howsoever one prefers to define it, there is always an element of voluntarism in the act of sacrifice, a voluntary act of deliberately following a course of action that has a high risk or certainty of suffering, personal loss or death. No wonder the world-wide-web suggests you must also look up ‘victimize’ when searching the meaning of sacrifice.

Having said this, one may ask if all those common sufferings of Kashmiri people, “their sacrifices” were actually the voluntary acts?

Ayn Rand, in her “Virtue of Selfishness” explains the term ‘sacrifice’ as the exchanging of that which is valued highly, for that which is valued less, or not at all. Obviously, the logic then says that during sacrifice one gives up something “less valued” in exchange of something “more valuable”. As is true in the Kashmir’s political context, this logic simply trivializes the value of human life and dignity. And in her philosophical thought, ‘Objectivism’, based on the principle that the “highest good is the pursuit of one's own rational self-interest”, Rand’s logic says that “rational self interest” will never ever allow anyone to devalue self-life, which according to her is “irrational”. She says acts that are irrationally and egotistically motivated and not considered sacrifice.


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