In our culture, women have been time and again heralded as symbols of 'sacrifice'. This quality of 'sacrifice' tagged to a woman, it seems has been perpetuated with a hidden agenda of exploiting the women and keeping them subjugated. It is not uncommon to find the elders, the parents and the so called wise in the community to be often blindly offering the advice of 'sacrificing for the sake of the family' to the women. These advices are generally showered on women when she acts in the interest of her 'self'. She is advised to 'sacrifice' when the men in her life do not want to make an effort to support the needs and interests of the woman. This advice is given time and again when she is being made the victim of exploitation by her family. It seems as if the victimization process becomes sanctified when it is branded a 'sacrifice'. Not only that, by thinking that the women ought to sacrifice for the sake of the family, the people who exploit her take her need to 'sacrifice' for granted.
It is ironical that this myth has been perpetuated generation after generation in a land that has produced and documented many of the highest and most refined thoughts and philosophies.
If only the true meaning of the word 'sacrifice' was as popular as its distorted meaning. 'Sacrifice' is not at all about 'denial' or 'suppression' of interests and desires. 'Sacrifice' is about setting aside certain things while pursuing one's passion and interest that defines and creates who you are. 'Sacrifice' is simply about choosing passion over other interests of life. 'Sacrifice' is never an effort on part of the person who is sacrificing although it may seem to be so for an onlooker.
For example, an activist who is passionate about working for a cause, may decide to give up a comfortable lifestyle and adopt the one which is not physically comforting. In such a case, for the activist, this 'sacrifice' or 'renunciation' is a choice that results very naturally from pursuing her passion.
Now, when we view the 'sacrifices' the women are 'asked' and 'coaxed' into making in light of the true meaning of 'sacrifice', we can clearly see that they are not 'sacrifices' at all! If a woman wants to pursue her interest about which she is passionate but instead is forced to make the choice of not pursuing it for the sake of her family, it is denial of herself not a 'sacrifice' that she is making. She is 'forced' into making the 'sacrifices' as the men in the family do not (want to) or cannot make an effort to be supportive of her interest and passion. Hence promoting and even glorifying the sacrifices made by women serves perfectly the interest of a patriarchal society. There are so many women who succumb to the false glory of 'sacrificing' and are not even aware that in the process all they are really doing is killing their 'soul'. To many such women the realization of this loss hits them at a much later age when often it is too late.
If a woman does gather the courage to go against the expectation of 'sacrificing', she is immediately branded a 'selfish'. And unfortunately so negative and under-rated is the attribute of 'selfishness' that many women do not feel very happy and comfortable about it and it is enough to force them to re-consider their action. Only very few women remain courageous and stand their ground and pursue their passion and interest despite the resistance. Also very few women are fortunate to get the support of the family and are not expected to 'sacrifice'.
Whether or not the woman needs to 'sacrifice' anything, it must be her choice and not the choice made for her by her family. What must she sacrifice must also be her and her choice alone. There are women who by their own choice, choose to give up a lucrative career for their passion and interest of being a home-maker. Such women are to an extent fortunate as their choice does not conflict with the normal expectations of the society. However, it is women whose passion lies elsewhere and outside their home who have to face the challenging consequences of shattering the expectations of the patriarchal society. It would be in the interest of their ultimate happiness for these women to become aware of the true meaning of 'sacrifice' when it is being used by the society to make them into a 'sacrificial lamb'. For if they succumb to the glorification and promotion of 'sacrifice' today, it is very much likely that they will regret their decision at some stage of their life by when it might be too late. So, to those women, my advice is 'listen to thy heart and heed what it says !'.
Listen to thy heart, oh woman
Heed what it says !
Listen to it despite the din and the noise.
Listen to it even if sometimes it may make you lose your poise.
Listen to it when it cries out loud and clear.
Listen to it when it palpitates in fear.
Listen to it when it wants to dare and enjoy.
Listen to it when it wants to just play coy.
Listen to it to get a clue and to find who you are.
Listen to it to get closer to dreams that seem so afar.
Listen to thy heart, oh woman
Heed what it says !