Problem Management — principles

The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of a mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one.
— Wilhelm Stekel

The mice which helplessly find themselves between the cat's teeth acquire no merit from their enforced sacrifice.
— Mahatma Gandhi

Disciplines or flagellations are a species of mortification strongly recommended by St. Francis de Sales, and universally adopted in religious Communities of both sexes. … Surely, then, it would not be too much for you to take the discipline once in the day, or at least three or four times in the week.
— St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori

Some persons are so inclined to mortify themselves that at every opportunity they have, they do so. What a beautiful practice this is, and how profitable!
— St. Alphonsus Rodriguez

People generally don't understand what sacrifice means. They confuse cause and effect, thinking that sacrifice itself is a useful thing.

They say that a soldier sacrificed his life for his country, as if his dying actually did some good.

If it were as simple as so many people seem to think it is, we could easily get a few thousand soldiers to volunteer, gently kill them, and thereby save the country with far less expense and suffering than the traditional method. But it just doesn't work that way.

It wasn't their dying that helped the country, it was their helping the country that caused their deaths.

Consider a soldier that falls on a grenade to protect his comrades. Yes, he died. Yes they were saved. But it really wasn't his death that saved them. It was his action that saved them, an action that happened to have resulted in his death.

If he had simply shot himself in the head, the sacrifice would have been the same, but no one would have been saved. The sacrifice has to be an unwanted effect of one's actions, it is not the cause of anything. If he could have somehow avoided making the sacrifice and saved the others without dying himself, everyone would have been better off. It was his willingness to put himself in a position to sacrifice, as a necessary requirement of saving his comrades, that was important, not the sacrifice itself.

It's true that on very rare occasions the sacrifice itself can have an effect (e.g. Bouazizi's suicide sparked the Arab Spring), but in general, self-interested sacrifice for the sake of sacrifice affects no one else.

The idea that self-inflicted suffering of itself can somehow help others is a ridiculous notion.

Religious people are especially prone to this false belief. History shows that saints and other good people suffered and sacrificed, and helped many others by doing so. But it wasn't their suffering that helped, it was their helping that caused their suffering.

Even so, many people think that by suffering and sacrificing like those saints, they too are somehow helping. They aren't. Voluntarily wearing burlap underwear and thorn belts, putting broken glass in one's shoes, or living lives of deprivation are certainly ways of sacrificing, but anyone that does so thinking they are actually helping anyone else is delusional.

Modern Environmentologists share a similar delusion, and even worse than traditional religious fanatics, they expect others to follow their self-righteous practices.