Personal Journeys with Gramma

Life adventures, inspiration and insight; shared in articles, advice, personal chats and pictures.

So What Are You Worth?

In a time when everything from the democratic process to the future of the Earth seems to have a handy price tag (“donate $5.00 and you’ll save humankind!”), we can hardly be surprised that we place values on the heads of people, too. To balance the scales, organizations and movements such as Black Lives Matter, Amnesty International, or the ACLU attempt to redeem the value of human life after birth. In many cynical movies, a character says, “Everybody has a price,” which generally refers to valuations of self-worth: What will you take to degrade yourself and betray what you believe?

Recently, my husband and I viewed the American/Canadian film THE SILENCING. Since it’s a thriller in which danger and violence replace character development, I won’t say I recommend it, but at one point the serial killer (who terrorizes and murders young women, of course) says something like, “I only take the ones no one will miss.” The killer, like the members of hate groups, feels confident that he can predict without compunction which human beings are expendable because they aren’t worth keeping alive. Of course, in spite of his judgements—that rely on no reliable evidence thus revealing his intellectual and moral poverty—the killer (also like members of hate groups) deems himself to be above consideration for removal. He gives himself the right to kill.

I’m not the first person to point out the absurdity of white supremacists or homophobes or misogynists who are glad to utilize the benefits of organizations, advances, and art created by members of their targeted inferior populations, while they continue to malign the human sources. People such as the serial killer in the movie feel justified in deciding who won’t be missed if they’re eliminated. Children in church or elders in synagogue—who needs them? Except their families, their friends, their co-workers, and civilized society. Who needs lowly medical workers, cleaning staff, and scientists but all of us?

What makes someone valuable? In the TV series UNDERCOVER BOSS, viewers often discover the people who make the most money from whatever enterprise are also the ones least capable of producing the product. Yet they’re paid far more than the people who have the skills and do the work. Some boardroom giants (and politicians?) are revealed as sexual predators or con artists or unethical manipulators of the market. But they have the funds to fool the gullible, bribe the vulnerable, and twist the system. No wonder they’re so anxious to destroy democracy. They have an insatiable hunger for more personal power. Many are happy to be purchased as long as they can make themselves appear valuable with material excesses. When we ask, “How much is he worth?” we’re asking for a dollar amount, not character. Recently, billionaires were reported to have gained five trillion dollars in profits while neighboring families go without sufficient healthy food.

Wisely, Nature has ruled that everyone will die at some point. Books are written detailing the wisdom of the dying. Priorities glare in retrospect. Some agree with the old saying, “Hindsight is 20/20.” At last, we might see the lessons and gifts even nameless people in our lives donated to our journey—perhaps contributions beyond price. Who is valuable? We look around and try to guess. We’re certain to misjudge if we keep looking for price tags.

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