Thursday, March 15, 2012

What is the value of Life?

The ultimate question which begs careful consideration in it's answer is how does one place a value on life? We see it all the time. In movies, on TV and in conversations between people. Often times, the bad guys say that they're worth more than the good guy's life. A mother cries out that life if their child is more valuable than anything else. I was strolling through Facebook the other day and noticed that one of my friends had posted a comment on an image of a very attractive female stating that she missed her so much. This got me curious and after extensive research i had discovered that the female had killed herself the night before. This got me contemplating the value of a person's life. Not just her's but mine as well.

I have contemplated these things and the best possible conclusion i could arise at is that the answer has nothing to do with fiscal worth. The closest thing would be the destroyed mother, mourning the loss of her child. As the late United States president Abraham Lincoln once said "It is not the years in your life, but the life in your years.". I believe that ultimately the true value of a person's life is decided by how many people they have genuinely affected.

Ever too often do we see high school teenagers who have hundreds and sometimes even thousands of friends on Facebook, hang around the coolest cats on the block. One would instantly be able to leap up at what i believe the value of a person's life is and cry out "You mean to say their life is more valuable than mine? or my family's? simply because I'm not insanely popular?" The easy response would be: no, your life may very well be more valuable than theirs. The long winded response would be this.

Often times the popular people are extremely lonely. While they may hang around all the coolest people and have hundreds of friends on Facebook, they're almost always never really close with any of them. This shouldn't come as a surprise because true friendship, even so much as a genuine connection with someone takes time and trust. both of which need to be built up. With their time spread out between so many people, the popular person never really finds the time to truly get to know anyone. It goes without saying that there is a major difference between the people who would show up to your funeral to grieve, who show up to your funeral to make sure you're dead, and those who never even considered going.

The girl who had killed herself appeared nothing but happy in all of her messages. As far as i could gather from her Facebook account she was a very outgoing and cheerful character with no real justifiable reason for committing suicide. But just the concept of suicide brings out the true heart of the matter at hand. Even with her 200-some Facebook "friends" there were only 4 who were truly disheartened by her untimely death. The rest of her friends either didn't bother to comment or left comments that were somewhat detached. Comments starting with the lines "I didn't really know you well but..." Those types of comments aren't created out of sadness, they're comments of a person who probably verbally commented "well that's a shame." and didn't think any more of it.

Hypothetically speaking, if you were to commit suicide tomorrow, how many people would genuinely mourn your passing? Obviously your parents would; no matter how much you've pissed off your parents in your life time, they're still your parents and you're still their baby. Who else could you say would with complete confidence? As you're asking yourself this, if you're discovering that the list is a large one, your life is probably valuable. I know I have two close friends, an ex who secretly still feels for me and my immediate family and my step siblings who would mourn my loss. So by that logic, my life would be worth 9 units (whatever the quantifiable unit would be). I would consider myself pretty reserved and close out most of anyone unless i feel i can truly trust them.

If i were to commit suicide it would be considered selfish because my life is worth a lot to those who would grieve regardless of my reasoning. I'm sure the parents of the girl on Facebook are feeling the same. They won't admit it immediately but somewhere in the back of their conscious mind they're asking themselves why their daughter was so selfish. However, that layer is buried underneath layer upon layer of guilt and questions of "what did we do wrong?"

In the end, even Lincoln, the powerful man that he was, was wrong in his sayings. Part of the grand scheme is the life in your years, if you were okay with dieing tomorrow knowing that you lived life the way you wanted to, you're doing alright. But it's also about the life you put into others.

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