This is a response to the one-word prompt “Sacred” by “The Daily Post.”
Once upon a time the word sacred actually meant something; it should still mean something in today’s world and for some it does. Yet, I cannot help but fear that the weight and meaning behind calling something sacred is somewhat lacking. According to Merriam-Webster to be sacred, something is to either be worthy of religious veneration, entitled to reverence and respect or highly valued and important <a sacred responsibility>.
Looking at those definitions of sacred, we can see that they do still apply in that religion still plays a very important role for many people all over the world, but especially in the United States, and that there are institutions and documents that are very much respected and cause a deep sense of responsibility, (the military, Constitution of the United States, Declaration of Independence). Yet, we also tend to us the word sacred as applied to almost anything that we give value to or view as important to ourselves and or society.
The biggest example I can think of is our politics where politicians will “defend to the death” certain programs and what not because they are “sacred.” I also find that people will tend to call anything sacred if they are in danger of losing it and want to keep it. In both cases, the things being called and treated as sacred, while may be very important and have great significance to individuals and society at large, don’t rate the high level of respect that being “sacred” does. Being important and valued is not enough to be sacred. To be sacred, something needs to “transcend” its self from the rest of the world. It needs to be bigger than the people and the world.
Even those things that we have traditionally held to be sacred and hold to the requirements of being sacred such as our religions (churches), governing documents, and institutions (military) for those who do hold these things as sacred, it is in a lot of cases a water down version of sacredness. (We honor our military men and women yet use them and abandon them.) By opening the door to what we hold as sacred we have diluted what it means to be sacred, thus lessening the importance of “truly” sacred things.
So is “sacred” overrated in today’s world? Yes, and no, I believe it is much more complicated than that. Yes, to the fact that those things that are truly deserving of being held sacred are not really treated as sacred even if they are respected, and yes to the fact that things that don’t really match what is sacred are held up as such. But no, to the fact that sacredness has really lost its meaning and “power.” That “power” may have diminished but is still there just waiting to be revived.