The American culture demonstrates great respect for the military veteran. These men and women are even compared with Jesus in their willingness to engage in personal sacrifice to the extent of dying in support of others. The highest military honors are reserved for those members of the armed forces who have demonstrated extraordinary self-sacrifice, often dying in the process.
In reverencing the sacrificial calling of military service, American society focuses on a powerful aspect of the message and example of Jesus. Counter intuitively Jesus called upon His followers to respect others above themselves. He promoted the idea that the promotion of self interest was not the source of happiness and fulfillment. Instead the road to abundant living was one in which man seeks the common good, not personal gain.
Ironically, in this same American cultural environment, the promotion of personal advantage is also held in high regard, in nearly every aspect of life. The cultural norms of personal responsibility, individualism, and competitiveness all point away from the idea of self sacrifice. It may be glorious for the soldier to sacrifice but the same approach in civilian life is considered wildly foolish. Perhaps, the soldier should be the one feeling foolish, accepting the accolades of a civilian public which sees no reason to sacrifice equally. Of course, in reality, the soldiers recognize what many do not- there is nobility in self sacrifice, even when the majority don’t really believe in it.
In the endless wrangling and posturing of American politics, the idea of self sacrifice is little in evidence. Routinely each side casts the position of self interest as that of the public good. True interest in the common good would logically require personal sacrifice from many of us. I rarely perceive any willingness to mimic either Jesus or the soldier in that regard.