Challenge #01308-C213: Modern Fable

Don't set yourself on fire to keep others warm. -- RecklessPrudence

Sacrifice is noble. There is no doubt. Those who turn aside their wants for the needs of others are truly glorious. They have honour. They gain kharma points. And some gain respect.

Most, however, are expected to sacrifice more.

The fable is told of those who sacrifice everything. The Giving Tree is just one. There is another... the Perfect Mother.

She gave up her employment so she could give her children life. It wasn't that important, after all, and she was paid far less than her husband. Besides, she had only been working to support him whilst he was working on his degree.

She gave up sleep and health for her babies. And that was expected. The next generation were the most important thing. She gave up her comforts so they could be comfortable.

She gave up her time and food so that she could remain attractive to her husband, and that was good as well. She was expected to remain a thing of beauty.

But time was a viper and betrayed her despite all her efforts. Her husband left her and her children for a prettier bride. That was a good of a sort, for it was expected of a man to have a wife that matched his success. So she had to give up time with her half-grown children to find what employment would take her.

She was selfish, some said, but there was no other way. She would not become a welfare queen, nor would she subsist on government benefits. So she worked every hour she could get, for whatever pay she could get. Two jobs. Three, four and five. Her children were healthy, it was true, and she had to work extra hours to afford a tutor, because she no longer had the hours to help them in their studies.

She fell sick, often. She got fired for her illnesses. Forced to find work at lower wages. Forced to take the government benefits she thought she was above. Forced to get the food that the government decreed they could purchase. Forced to cook bland and boring food and forced to bear the brunt of the glares and judgements of all those who thought she didn't deserve it.

And that was good, too. Old women had no place being in public. They should have shut themselves away. People on government benefits had no business buying food in front of anyone else. And the list of things that government benefits could buy got thinner and thinner and thinner.

She voted for a man who would make her country great again. As did many, many others. They believed that he would. They could not know that he lied.

She and her family grew hungry. The children worked. She worked. Her ex-husband took her children away and forced her to pay for their keep but not to visit them. And that was good. She was obviously not fit to care for them, and she had to be a responsible parent.

She could no longer afford to eat. The government benefits were gone. She sold her belongings to feed her family. She worked for nothing because work was good. Her boss was allowed to use her because that was all she was good for, and she dared not complain or end in a jail. And that was good. She wasn't useful for much else, and all should be useful.

When she fell ill, her family never came. She was shunted into a place where the poor people went to die without any intervention from any but the kindest of people who might drape her with a cheap blanket or give her some almost clear water.

She died quickly, and that was good. Nobody of her low status deserved to hang around too long and take resources away from decent people. Her body was taken to a factory where her remains were milled and processed and rendered. And she was turned to oil to heat the homes of the people who were worth something.

And that was good as well. Because finally and at last, she had a value. $10/quart.

Some say that sacrifice is noble. Those who usually say it in excess are those who never have to sacrifice. And those who make sacrifices must ensure that they do not sacrifice all of themselves for the greater good. That is not sacrifice, my friend. That is surrender.

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