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Sacrifice is not a bad word.

The daughter had a performance in her school where she was going on a stage for the first time. It was important for her. Her mother had a friend’s birthday party at the same time. She decided to miss the birthday party (It will happen next year too) and decided to attend her daughter’s stage performance to boost the child's confidence and participate in an important event in her child’s life. Was this sacrifice? Was this bad?

His dad had wanted to visit a particular temple on a holy day. His friends had booked a resort for a get-together. The dates clashed. The dad was okay with the son going for his get together. But the son at the last moment cancelled his trip and took his dad for the temple visit. Was this a sacrifice and was this wrong?

When we give up our needs to attend to other people’s needs, that is sacrifice. We decide to forego our comfort, our pleasures so that someone’s else is comfortable and happy. We do it often in our lives and others around us too have done it for us. Sacrifice is a common exchange in all relationships.

Why has sacrifice got such a bad name in recent times? Why do people think we should not give up our comfort and happiness for other people? Can we really live in a society with others only concerned with our needs, comforts, and happiness?

Reciprocity, give and take is a crucial reason why human beings are successful. Within human beings too, societies and communities which are cooperative have flourished as a whole. Families where members cooperate with one another, look after each other's interest are happier and more successful.

That is the key part of sacrifice - reciprocity. I am the person sacrificing at times and I am the person receiving the benefit of someone’s sacrifice at other times. Sacrifice is not good if it is forced. When there is huge resentment because of sacrifice then it is bad. When one person has to sacrifice their interest all the time for everyone, resentment build up.

In all other cases, sacrifice is something that happens all the time between people. We do things for others, other people do things for us. At times, people we take care of may not take care of us but someone else does things for us. Parents do things for children, children do things for parents, siblings do things for each other. Friends cover one another. Sacrifice is not such a bad thing except when done at gunpoint.

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