Sacrifice is a word defined in two seemingly different ways. The first and most generally used relates to the physical submission by proxy of either the individual or substitute as an offering to appease a divine or supernatural being, sacrifice serving as both verb and the noun in this context. This form of sacrifice may be reverentially willing or highly unwilling dependent on circumstance, equate the difference between Joe in ‘Joe and the Volcano’ and Thulsa Doom’s followers in ‘Conan the Barbarian’. The second and less common meaning infers a philosophical willingness by the subject to place themselves and their wellbeing subservient to an individual, premise, an ideal they believe of higher worth unto death, exemplified by the multitudinous martyrs present within any religious doctrine.
Delineations are inclined to blur via misuse or misunderstanding, be more anecdotal than exact. Some professions proclaim sacrificial status, doctors, nurses, undertakers, individuals respondent to the crisis, ever answering yea to emergency call. Duties may by their nature suggest sacrificial inclinations but in actuality distance themselves quite cannily by application of rule or suggestion.
An example in point would be that members of the Armed Forces are no longer expected to accept demise as the outcome of defeat but rather are allowed in life threatening circumstance to permit capture, recognizing captivity as an acceptably honorable substitute for the more traditional consequence of such abject failure. The eras of social and professional stigmatization through such ‘cowardly’ acts are in the majority of cases now at an end, notable exceptions being in areas, classes and social groupings where surrender and disloyalty are still considered to be a fate worse than death. Interestingly nations who employ mercenaries to indulge their more extreme militaristic policies are inclined to reach out to just such individuals, classes and nations to bolster their ranks.
All social groupings adhere to the principle ‘as leads the front line so follows the rear’. As questions concerning the exact demands of responsibility begin to invest the elite, the query doth necessarily, simply by osmosis, leech to the common. In the dilution of the democratic principle society now deems to accept, where the elite can avoid responsibility so may the commoner, if the noble is permitted to assuage principle then so equally are the lowly. Communal conscience is thus suddenly metamorphosized into anarchical self-interest.