I have a theory on why we, as people, hold so tightly to our sacred cows. The flavor of cow doesn't matter so much as the reason we hang on so tightly; so I'm not going to address any specific cow, but just their existence in general.
I think that we go through a bunch of stages of growth, not only in our body, but also in our minds. Ok, I know that we do. What I think, is that I'm starting to see some patterns. We start out knowing nothing and in our early years our opinions and attitudes are formed largely by those who take care of us. We learn from them because they love us (hopefully) and we have no reason to not believe what they tell us. They seem to have life all figured out and we assume they know all the answers.
It doesn't take long for this to start to change, although the change happens gradually. First, it is the realization that we are our own person. Second, the somewhat scary notion arises that perhaps, our caretakers don't have all the answers. Third, we figure out they have none of the answers (know any teenagers?) Then, we step out and begin to explore on our own.
I really think that the attitude with which this exploration is met is pivotal in our later handling of sacred cows. If, for instance, you have an authority figure, parent, teacher, etc who encourages your personal discovery, you are less likely to have a strangle hold on said cow. But, if you are made to feel ashamed or if your exploration is met with fea or anger by those guiding you, then the cows take on a life of their own.
Why? Because we all want to be accepted. If exploration of different ideas about things is reacted to in a very strong negative way, many people will back off and simply adopt the cows common to their culture for the sake of belonging. Then, when another person tries to kick the cow down, or even just give it a good once over, the owner of the cow feels that their very security is being threatened.
So, to state it simply, we protect those cows because we're afraid. We're afraid that if they get knocked down, our whole identity and security goes down with them.
This is what I have discovered. I am not one with my sacred cows. I am a person in my own right and whether I cling to the cow or not, it does not define me. I may have grown up feeling very strongly about something - because those guiding me held certain convictions - and come to find out that I actually feel exactly the opposite way about it.
This is ok. It is not a slap in the face of those who raised me and nurtured me. No, it is actually a testament to their bravery and lack of fear as they carried out that job.
Question away, Mihailoff kids, I'm not afraid of your questions. Your place in my heart is quite secure whether you like my cows or not. :)