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Self-Sacrifice: Why Some People Sacrifice Their Lives

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Self-Sacrifice: Why Some People Sacrifice Their Lives

People like Alexei Navalny give up their private happiness and put their lives in the service of a higher cause. Why? What psychology knows about self-sacrifice.

Loudspeaker Listen to article For many people, Alexei Navalny was a “hero of the new times,” as it says in Russian on this wall. © Alexander Demianchuk/action press

In January, a short text appeared on Alexei Navalny’s Facebook profile. He wrote from prison:

“Exactly three years ago I returned to Russia after being treated for poisoning. I was arrested at the airport. Now I’ve been sitting here for three years. And for three years I’ve been answering the same question. The inmates ask it simply and directly . Prison officials wary when the recording devices are turned off: ‘Why did you come back?'”

Now Alexei Navalny is dead and people are hearing and reading and asking themselves this question again: Why did he return to Russia back then? He could have stayed in Germany with his wife, he could have watched his daughter graduate in America and his son grow from a teenager to a man.

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