A life’s value is relative. Everything is.

Person in a snowy background, dragging a fallen tree

I’ve realized through years that a life’s value relays mostly on who you ask. Everyday watching the news you can see death everywhere. It’s harsh to think about that. Death is everywhere; it’s a fact. We are born, we grow up, we die. Circle of life. But even when we are conscious about death around, we can’t stand death nearby.

I must say one thing I find true about ourselves as people. “3 students were killed in an accident somewhere” will not cause the same effect as “The students John Doe, James Smith and Mary Poppins were killed in an accident somewhere”. The reason? We fear death: we fear real people dying, not numbers. Giving the name of a victim, a dead person, gives us information about such person. The more information we have, the more human that person becomes, and so that harder it hurts.

Of course the death of person who’s close to you is hard to deal with. You know them better than many other people, and so the feeling of “them being gone” becomes worse.

But the ugly part is that when you hear/read “3 students were killed in an accident somewhere”, the 3 people are John, James and Mary, all along, even if you don’t know their names. We know about the existence of death around us, but as a defense we don’t actually fear it, but fear people we know being gone. Because we know them! Knowing the life of someone and realizing that’s it, because nothing else will happen to them, is what hurts.

At the end, it also depends on what kind of person we are, to how we feel things, how we show those feelings. Because there are cold people who may feel the lost, but not as much as the sentimental one. Or the other way around, if we talk about hiding personality.

The value of a life becomes then relative to who you ask. There in how close the two were, and in how the person you ask feels things. Is s/he a cold or an emotive person?

Photo by Hartwig HKD.

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