Even though we may struggle with issues of self-worth at times, most of us believe that people are fundamentally valuable. Human life is precious.

While we wrestle with how that understanding is applied in our own lives and those we kiss goodnight, there is yet another application of that principle to grasp....

If all life matters – if all life is precious, why do we act as though some life is more important than others?

If in fact we are all equally as precious, then where do these perceived differences originate?

I believe that perception is based on how we impact on each other, the relationships we have and the attitudes that develop. My child is no more valuable than a child dying of hunger in the Sudan, but she is to me because of the impact she’s had on me. We have a relationship that connects us and allows us to understand each other.

As you might imagine, those things are easier to cultivate with those we communicate with regularly. As our circle of connection grows we have less contact with those on the fringe. Throw technology and social media into that mix and suddenly we have a much larger circle of close contacts – people who become a valued part of our life.

If our ability to impact on each other is what differentiates our perceived value, then it follows that those capable of significant impact are likely to be considered more valuable. This simple fact means the opportunities to be valued are cornered by the privileged with access to mass communication.

My life is no more valuable than that of a women born in an impoverished region – struggling to survive on a daily basis – no education – inadequate housing – in constant fear for her life – voiceless. Those she impacts upon are small in number – she has no transport – no phone – certainly no website or blog – no access to social media and neither the ability or the basic resources to even write.

I have those things.

If our roles were instantly reversed would I sit in a cell hoping she remembered I was there? Or as I work in the fields would I hope she used her connections-to-the-world to tell others about me? As I go to sleep hungry and exhausted would I wonder which restaurant she was at? As I remember how lovely it was to languish over breakfast, sleep on soft pillows with a full belly in a safe home, will I understand that she is busy with commitments of her own?

Perhaps not.

I’m reminded this week of my privileges and the responsibility I have to put them to good use. Not to appease a guilty conscience, but simply because I can.


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