In a recent interview, Donald Trump was asked what sacrifices he has made. The context of the question was in response to the father of a fallen soldier who, grieving the loss of his son and feeling this loss to be the ultimate sacrifice one can make, claimed “You have sacrificed nothing and no one, Mr. Trump.” This claim came up during the interview, and Donald Trump was asked, “What sacrifice have you made for your country?”
Mr. Trump replied by saying he’s made a lot of sacrifices and mentioned specifically that he works very hard and has created tens of thousands of jobs and provided education for those workers, built great structures, including a Vietnam War memorial in Manhattan, raised money for Vets, and more. The reply to his answers by his interviewer was “you consider those actions to be sacrifices?” “Yes.”
Before listening to the actual interview, I’d heard some scuttlebutt about it, mostly grumbling about what Mr. Trump feels are sacrifices. Because of the context, many people were comparing Mr. Trump’s sacrifices with those of a father who lost his son in war and of course no comparison can be made. But the question was about sacrifice, not about losing a loved one. Before judging his response to the question, I asked myself the same question. What have I sacrificed for my country? What has the guy across the street sacrificed for his country? What have most of us sacrificed for our country?
I was reminded of The Hero’s Journey, in which Joseph Campbell helps us realize that the man who goes off to work every morning is sacrificing a little bit of himself each day. And I thought about the single mother who sets aside her dreams to work 2 jobs so that she can provide all that her children need. She sacrifices a part of herself every day. And that man and that single mom do so not only for their children, but for the greater good of society. They are working hard to raise children who will contribute to society in as beneficial a way as they have the capability and knowledge to. Isn’t that a sacrifice for country? We can’t compare a father’s loss of his son in war to these “everyday sacrifices,” but when we ask the question “what have you sacrificed,” we can almost always find an answer in the way we live, especially when we admit that the job one person does is just as necessary as the job of another.
All of us sacrifice something along the way. And while some may sacrifice more than others, how do we measure sacrifice? Does such a measure really exist? Considering the heartbreak and pain that often comes with sacrifice, whether it comes like a punch in the face or a little each day, it doesn’t seem like something we should be measuring or keeping score of. Let’s work hard to do as much as we can to live the best life we can and be the best we can be. That’s a sacrifice with both personal and societal reward.
This article does not reflect the author’s political opinions.