Power of sacrifice

Sacrifice entails giving up or abstaining from doing something which one genuinely and ardently likes or relishes doing, without any grimacing, cribbing or misgiving. This quality, which is a very admirable and rare trait, is of various kinds and genres.

Several religions have at their core the element of extreme sacrifice, for example, in Islam, Bakrid and Moharram are festivals based on sacrifice.

What are the major reasons for sacrifice? One form is when persons influenced by a higher and genuine calling remain unmarried and celibate and thus give up the pleasures of a conjugal life, willingly and without coercion.

This includes Brahmacharis among Hindus, Catholic priests and nuns among Christians, and mullahs among Muslims. Another form of genuine sacrifice is fasting or abstaining from taking food during auspicious festivals and religious functions.

When one sacrifices due to one’s own volition without it being forced in any way, one will definitely be bestowed with abundant blessings from an omniscient God.

While religious sacrifices are no doubt creditable and laudable, there are also sacrifices one can make not necessarily to placate God, but for the cause of humanity and humanism.

It was in 1893 when West Indies was plagued by the onset of the killer disease, yellow fever. In the course of 47 years, more than 35,000 people succumbed to the disease in Havana alone.

This is indeed an alarming statistic, and as a result, physicians were appointed to zero in on the cause, the carrier and the source of the killer disease, which people with less resistance were succumbing to.Dr Walter Reed led a team of physicians to spearhead this drive.

It had already been ascertained that malaria is caused by the bite of an anopheles mosquito. The physicians pondered over whether yellow fever, too, is due to the bite of a mosquito.

To find out, human being volunteers were needed to act as guinea pi­gs for experimentation. Two sincere, true blue American soldiers came forward magnanimously, averring that they would not mind sacrificing their lives for this cause.

It meant that if indeed yellow fever is due to a mosquito bite, then further research could be done to discover a vaccine to remedy the situation, which could save the lives of thousands upon thousands of sufferers.

However, it would also mean that the two “guinea pigs” (the two soldiers) would subsequently die, painfully and miserably.Nevertheless, the two soldiers were equal to it and went ahead, visualising the bigger picture of the larger cause for humanity.

Their selfless sacrifice paid off for it was discovered that yellow fever is indeed due to the bite of a stegomyia mosquito. The world cannot forget the two soldiers, who in the prime of their lives, sacrificed their lives in order to procure a yellow fever-free world.

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