|definition of "Martyr"|
- Saturday, August 6 2005, 9:53:52 (CEST)|
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...if we're going to speak English in an English-speaking country...to people who speak English, then I think we should know what such a loaded word as "martyr" means in THIS language.
mar·tyr ( P ) Pronunciation Key (märtr)
1. One who chooses to suffer death rather than renounce religious principles.
...no matter where you look and how many definitions of this word you find...the single most telling aspect of its definition will always be "choice". It will cover more than religious beliefs...but whatever it spells out, the distinguishing feature will be the CHOICE to suffer martyrdom.
..let's say there is a Christian family hated by Martians. The Martians come upon the head of the household out in a field one day and one of them shoots him dead with a ray gun...doesn't say a word to him...has no reason to do it, other than the fact that he HATES Christians. That dead Christian is NOT a martyr...it doesn't matter that he was Christian and hated for it and got killed as a result.
..had the Martian TOLD the Christian, "change your religion or I will kill you"...and had the Christian refused, even with a gun pointing to his head...THEN he would be a martyr if killed...because he was allowed the choice and the chance to back out...but refused knowing full well what to expect.
You could say that just by BEING Christians and refusing to leave the country or change religions, the people were "courting" martyrdom...were risking it...but that STILL wouldn't make the simple act of killing one of them, making a martyr of THAT one.
Under these circumstances the dead Christian is a victim...and that's bad enough. Americans are very uncomfortable with the idea of martyrdom...they don't like it...it's too hysterical...too religious and they don't like the idea of taking a bullet if a little subtrefuge can allow you to live to fight another day...they see nothing noble in CHOOSING to be killed, like a sacrificial lamb...even the Jews teach that god understands your predicament...that a COERCED conversion or denial, just like a forced confession, is not legal or blameworthy...and Jews faced with such a dilemna are forgiven by their god ahead of time for apostasy...because god knows what is in their hearts and he needs them to stay ALIVE...he knows they don't MEAN it.
I always marvelled at the amount of praise we heap on martyrs...as much as Islam does. I recall the story of the Christian woman who allowed her seven sons to have their throats slit rather than deny Jesus. I could never understand how that sort of a mother could be held up to praise...at the very least she just cost Jesus a LOT of Christians...if each son had lived, married and spawned another seven sons each...there would be 56 MORE Cristians in ONE generation and several hundred soon after...can a small and embattled minority really afford to be so PRODIGAL with their members? Why this love affair with death and disaster?
2. One who makes great sacrifices or suffers much in order to further a belief, cause, or principle.
...this second definiton leaves out choice but it doesn't mentnion being killed willingly as a result of furthering anything...just extreme suffering...coal miners suffer a lot in furthering the cause of the owners...I suppose you could call them martyrs...but it's a bit shakey.
3. One who endures great suffering: a martyr to arthritis.
...we're getting farther and farther away from the traditional definition of the word.
4. One who makes a great show of suffering in order to arouse sympathy.
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