Sacrifice, it seems, is as much a part of the human condition as breathing.
If you had suggested a year ago that the president of the United States would be foolish enough to sacrifice faltering Middle East peace to an even more uncertain and contrary political base; that the same president and Congress would sacrifice not only their political offices but the health and economic well-being of millions of their citizens for a win involving everything from abuse of office and sexual assault; or that Canada’s leaders would ever contemplate an open-arms policy towards ISIS operatives, I would have thought you mad, or, at the very least, grossly uninformed.
Yet it is all too true, and I shouldn’t be surprised for humans have been sacrificing since time immemorial — not only in terms of health and finance, but their very lives. Up and into the Middle Ages, ritual murder was a way of life in many parts of the world. Sacrifices were often carried out to appease deities in one form or another and were often connected with giving thanks for victory in battle or in hopes of an abundant harvest. Unfortunately for house staff, their masters often sacrificed them so that they would be around to tend on said masters in the next world.
Thankfully, much of this had ended by the time the New World was discovered, but even here ritual killing continued into the 18th. century, with reports of human sacrifice on into the 21st century, in places like Brazil and Afghanistan.
While it may be true that ritual killing is nearing an end, the sacrifice of our young to the gods of war, sports and profit knows no such let-up.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, it is said we sacrificed our best and brightest on European battlefields during the First and Second World Wars. Many came home broken, leading to bleak futures for all involved.
The gods have changed, but the sacrifice is just as real and just as costly. Every day of the week we watch (and yes, I am the keenest of Demar DeRozan fans) some of our youngest, brightest and strongest perform at various sports venues throughout the world. While we do know the probabilities of these wonderful young people being maimed and injured for life, we seem more than willing to sacrifice them all so that we can play the role of spectators and make unimaginable profits.
If we just take three examples — hockey, football, and basketball — the truth of what I’m saying is patently obvious. The injuries in the NBA alone so far this year are mind-boggling.
And there are no boundaries to what we will sacrifice in the name of profit. Studies have been done in the United States and other nations that show the ill effects of cellphone usage on the very young, especially on girls and young women. Studies show how over the last two decades, teen tendonitis, stress, sleep loss and accidents are all on the rise. At the same time teens suffer much anxiety, loneliness and cyber-bullying and appear to be at higher risks for various cancers. And yet Big Comm doubles down on getting their gadgets into the hands of the young.
What is true for the U.S. is surely true for Canada, including here in our own backyard. And it is not only Big Comm. Big Auto, even though they’ve known for decades the effects of fossil fuels on our environment, continue to build even bigger and more powerful automobiles, especially trucks. Big Tobacco has known for years the deleterious effects of smoking on health, yet nothing can be done to stop them. Big Pharma, likewise, seems willing to sacrifice the lives of millions to the gods of profit. Just think of the worldwide use of opioids that are prescribed and dispensed legally to multi-millions of people.
And finally, our very own political class and their banker friends had absolutely no qualms whatsoever in sacrificing the economic well-being of Newfoundland and Labrador to their god-of-the-day, Muskrat Falls.