The Value of Life
I often wonder what is the value of life?
Is it that everyone is just as valuable as the other?
Is it that some people deserve to live more than others?
Do our accomplishments increase the value of our lives?
On this topic, I would wholeheartedly say that the world is wrapped up in confusion about this and that even those who state clearly their answers to the above questions do not really delve into the depths of them and spend time pondering this great mystery.
You might think that I go overboard by calling it a great mystery, but indeed, there are some who clearly state answers about the value of life and then contradict them in the same breath.
If you read any form of news at all, you will come across a story on the loss of life. Some lives are reported on more than others based on the esteem of society.
I cannot count the number of news stories I have read that discuss the loss of lives through famine, pestilence, war or unforeseen tragedy. I have seen the lives that are called great lives and irreplaceable lives, as well as those that are mentioned by name and then forgotten forever.
I have heard one clearly declare the value of one life over another, and I have also heard the view that the lives of animals are more to be prized than that of human kind.
Where do you stand in all of this?
Are you clearly on one side of the fence or are you decisive in one minute and then listing exceptions in the next?
Crime and other factors which contribute to the Value of Life
The first obvious contrast is the value of the life of a criminal over the life of a law-abiding citizen.
I think most people would say that the law-abiding citizen is more valuable because he or she adds to society, while the criminal only brings society down.
However, there is the question of reform to consider and there is also the question of justice to consider.
The extreme pacifist will say that all life is important and plead for reformation of the criminal rather than retribution. While others, who see justice as something that keeps the world in balance, will insist that, although not pretty, it is necessary.
He who is one with nature will value the seeds in the fruit as potential life and will look at the population of animals yet to be born as something great and precious to be protected.
Laws have been passed to ensure that the egg of a bald eagle is not even disturbed because the eagle is a treasure to the United States.
Yet an egg that is a fetus is not protected in this way. The carrier of the life has a choice and one life is esteemed more than the other.
Of course there are the arguments in defense of it - overpopulation, poverty, lack of support etc. All very legitimate reasons.
However, the situation of the birds are not considered, if they are, then they are helped and the fostering of the unborn is relished by man.
Admittedly there are some individuals who do so much harm to society, one might venture to say that the person should have never been born. Then there are some who do so much to help society, that one might say that the world would have been quite dark without the person in it.
How can you tell in the womb?
How can you see the future?
You do not know who will become a Beethoven or a Mozart, a Leonardo da Vinci or a Michelangelo, a William Shakespeare or a Charles Dickens, a Hedy Lamar or a George Washington Carver.
This simple fact makes us unable to make an informed decision and we are certainly throwing the baby out with the bathwater. (pun intended).
The View of Self Value
Self-value is another thing to consider. By this I do not mean conceit or love of self but rather whether one thinks that he/she is valuable and worth something.
There are many who may opine that their value is minimal simply because there are not very many people who care for them. This may make them conclude that their lives are not so very valuable because the number of lives they influence is small at best. Especially in this time where it is touted that the more people who know you, the greater you are as a human being.
Yet, I do not think that people really take life value into consideration when faced with the loss of those 'popular' ones. They are shocked and saddened and say that a great treasure was lost based upon the accomplishments that someone did but not based upon the character of that person.
Or maybe I am wrong?
Is it possible to truly know the character of a person without knowing them personally?
Furthermore, does the character of a person determine their value?
Then there are some elderly members of society who believe themselves to be a burden and invaluable and wish to be relieved of their lives as well as younger ones who believe that it would be best to put them out of their misery if and when they get to that circumstance.
Some times the elderly or the infirmed do not function as they used to or are in a constant state of suffering and wish to escape it through death. They believe that they have nothing more to contribute to society and wish to escape the pain. Some want to be placed in elderly homes while others wish to end it all.
Are their lives valued when their wishes are granted or when their wishes are not granted?
One may resoundingly yell, "Of course that is valuing their lives. You show them the utmost respect by listening to them and doing as they ask."
Another may reply, "But in their last moments, the value of teaching is at its pinnacle. It is at the bedside of the very ill and handicapped where one truly learns patience, gratitude, unconditional love and selflessness. It is where one learns that burdens can become blessings . It is where one learns to persevere and isn't that one of the most invaluable lessons of life?"
Yet that road is not an easy one to travel and for some, they grab onto the person's wish and embrace it perhaps because the alternative is too much for them to take.
I think that the heaviness of this issue proves the importance of life and the fact that is to be highly valued.
While writing this, I realized that life is so precious that it is something that should be handled with kid gloves. It seems that even our lives are not our own and if that is so we can not even contemplate whether we should live or die.
It appears that the minute we do so, we value our lives above another.
© 2020 North Wind