Sacrifice, Seeds and Starvation

Interesting title for this post, eh?  Since you sacrificed a few minutes to read what it was about, I know it worked! 

Sacrifice.

I’ve been thinking about the way we navigate our individual fishbowls, and I have concluded that we are all trying to become leaders.  Leaders in our own area of expertise, talent and/or desire.

I have learned that many people are misguided in their belief that leadership is leading others.  Well, it’s not.  We may, at some time be in a position to lead others, but before we can be successful at that, we must learn to lead ourselves.

This odyssey we each undertake must begin with four areas of self-leadership. 

  • Sacrifice
  • Empowerment
  • Love
  • Friendship

This post is the start of a conversation I hope to have with you about sacrifice.  If we don’t learn to sacrifice things we want for things others need or want, then we will never have the ability to truly lead others to greatness.

Take this man, for example, Nikolai Vavilov.

Nikolai Vavilov, a Russian botanist in 1941, had created the largest seed bank
in the world.  His collection of 400,000 seeds, roots, fruits and genetic
material, held the future of Soviet agriculture. Unfortunately it was located in
Leningrad,
which Hitler encircled that summer and began to starve.

The siege of Leningrad
lasted two years and cost more than a million lives, and Vavilov’s scientists
endured it surrounded by edible plants.

As they slowly starved, they refused
to eat from any of their collection containers of rice, peas, corn and wheat
,”
two survivors remembered in 1993. “They chose torment and death in order to
preserve Vavilov’s gene bank
.”

In all, nine scientists and workers chose to die of starvation
rather than eat the plants. Vavilov himself died in a labor camp in 1943, but
today his bank is the largest collection of fruits and berries in the world.

Think about the sacrifice of Nikolai Vavilov the next time you eat a strawberry, or have a slice of blueberry pie.  


Yummm…..blueberry pie.  Okay, I digress.

The Decemberists wrote a song about the sacrifice of Vavilov.  You can listen to the song “When the War Came” by clinking on this LINK or you can read the lyrics:

“When The War Came”

With all the grain of Babylon

To cultivate to make us strong


And hidden here behind the walls


Are shoulders wide and timber on


‘Til the war came


‘Til the war came




A terrible autonomy


Is grafted onto you and me


Our trust put in the government


They told their lies are heaven sent


‘Til the war came


‘Til the war came




And the war came with a curse and a caterwaul


And the war came with all the poise of a cannonball


And they’re picking out our eyes by coal and candlelight


When the war came, the war came hard




We made our oath to Vavilov


We’d not betray the Solanum


The acres of asteraceae


To our own pangs of starvation


When the war came


When the war came




And the war came with a curse and a caterwaul


And the war came with all the poise of a cannonball


And they’re picking out our eyes by coal and candlelight


When the war came, the war came hard




With all the grain of Babylon

Sacrifice. 

How much do YOU sacrifice for the betterment of others? 

What does sacrifice mean to you? 

Do you know stories about sacrifice you can share?

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