Someone asked “What does something being “sacred” mean?” on Quora. Below is my answer.
Modern secular society has come to generally have a sort of disdain for the idea of the sacred. It is the same kind of disdain that is associated with religion when it is assumed that it is nothing more than mythology — fantastic stories that humans told each other when they didn’t know any better about their place in the universe.
But a sense of the sacred is something far more common. It is something we encounter and practise in our everyday lives.
To hold something sacred means valuing something enough to let it change you. This is different from merely valuing something from a utilitarian point of view. For example, a temple (or any sacred space for that matter) is sacred because the people who do hold it sacred will not do certain things in it. Some people will not lose their temper and prefer to take the argument outside. Some people will think twice before lying in a temple. Some people will even follow customs that they are expected to follow despite not agreeing with them on a personal level.
The reason behind this is that they consider the temple a sacred place and allow it to change them. Now, it is possible to argue that they, in the interest of individuality, should not do so, but that argument can be met with the logic that the choice to hold a place sacred is an individual choice as well.
Here is another example, one I hope more Quora users will be able to relate with. I maintain a presence on various social networks and value my profiles on Twitter, Facebook and even Google+. But I find my relationship with Quora more than just valuable. I think it is sacred.
I say that because I find myself changing here. While I would not think twice before lashing out in righteous anger on a platform like Facebook or Twitter (places where everyone is opinionated), I find myself making the effort to be objective on Quora. Though this is probably more true of the Q&A section than it is of my blog here, Quora makes me a better individual than I am elsewhere. This may be because I consider the idea of a web space for knowledge a more worthy idea than a web space for opinion.
So in summary, sacred is that which may be perfectly mundane, but which is assigned superior qualities by the human imagination, thus making it something more than mundane.