The valuation of one’s life provides a true application of self-reflection that can be incredibly insightful, yet somewhat morbid at the same time. When someone is placed in to a position to actually place a value on their existence, their life, and their little spot on this earth and be forced to deal with the reality of their value within the grand scheme of things, it has the potential to be ground shaking. It should also be required. Many people hold themselves in high regard, they feel that perhaps an organization, group, or family may cease to function without their presence. Some feel that they are so valuable that the world would just stop spinning if it weren’t for them!
In many countries, life is cheap. Imagine that you were born in a small third-world country, lived in a nomadic tribe, ate food twice a week, and drank fresh sporadically. Imagine that the only function you have is living from day to day focused upon your own survival as well as group survival. Maybe you are the only hunter in the group. If so, then your value is much greater than the non-hunters. You bring food to feed the tribe—you have a great and meaningful function.
What if you lived in a poor African nation where you relied upon the skills of others to provide for you? Would it matter much if you died tomorrow? Probably not. Your true value is not even something to be recognized or attempted to be measured. Your existence is essentially reducing the resources for others around you, the hunters, the gatherers, and the ones who actually drive you forward in your fight for survival.
Some countries focus upon lives devoted strictly for religious purposes. Some strive to become martyrs, they wish to die to help promote their religion. Life is cheap—live fast, die young.
Americans typically place high values on their lives. You can see this through people buying insurance, regular doctor visits, obtaining good employment, and living robustly in a materialistic environment. Americans place even greater value on celebrities, politicians, and musical performers. They fund them through watching their movies or television shows, voting them into office, purchasing albums and attending concerts. The people supporting those celebrities may not be living a rich life, yet they work to fund the lives of those who are larger than life, as it were.
Most Americans would not wish to become martyrs. Most would not view that dying or self-sacrifice for religious purposes is worth it. Some live comfortably, others live in poverty, but even the poorest still believe that they are valuable. They feel that the rest of society should pay their way in life through welfare, government handouts, and the like. They are told they are valuable through the democratic controlled government. They are told they deserve to be coddled and taken care of by those who are better off than they are. They are given a false sense of value. Meanwhile, the worthless tribesman who is unable to enact some purpose for the tribe will die and nobody will think twice about it.
The modern societal structure is established in such a way as to prevent the weak from feeling truly weak. They want them to feel as though they are part of society and provide for them. The politicians want their votes, the philanthropists want someone to help, and the middle class blue collar types often hold them all in contempt. The middle class people are not rich enough to take a large loss in taxes to pay for their poor neighbor’s health care or groceries and deal with it gracefully at the same time. They think that the folks making more money should pick up a larger piece of slack. They want to add more value to themselves by taking away from those who are financially better than they are to offset the cost of keeping the worthless tribesmen hobbling along with them.
What great thing have you done in life? If you died tomorrow, would a vital part of this world suddenly stop? I doubt it.
Do you think that loudmouth braggart is actually happy? That guy who likes to talk big about himself while insulting everyone else—you know the type, I’m sure. Pretentiousness is such an integral part of some people. They fail to realize that their actual true value is so low within the grand scheme of things. If society were to collapse, would that person be able to take care of himself or his family without the aid of the system? Probably not. Those with bloated ideas of themselves would easily crumble in the face of harsh reality. The great equalization of mankind through a grand traumatic situation where the destruction of the system occurs and everyone becomes neutral would have an amazingly profound effect. The ones at the top have the farthest height to fall.
If a great collapse were to occur, the ones who are already on the bottom have everything to gain, those at the top have everything to lose. The person who has nothing and needs something will have more desire and drive to take from those that have. The rich man quickly becomes the dead man and his value is instantly demoted to zero in a split second. Life would no longer be valued on the cars people drive, how big their television is, or how much trivial knowledge they have on areas of study that do not correlate to actual vital living. The people who by all their groceries from a store and live from supermarkets are destined to starve to death.
The value of life is only worth anything in two situations. 1) The value placed on the life by the individual living the life. 2) The value placed on the life through actual function to serve the tribe dynamic. Any other systematic value assessments are meaningless. Your life does not have any value to me, unless I can exploit you in some way to bring something more to my life. I may be able to use you, but I certainly wouldn’t try to put a dollar figure on you.
The valuation of life stems directly from the human condition. The insatiable thirst for unlocking the mysteries as to why we are here, what is our purpose in life, and so forth. People create religions to find meaning. They try to find something more to life through religion, but the value system is still structured just like the rest of society. The preachers and leaders are at the top, they have the most, and then it’s trickle-down from there. It’s the same structure, just with different people.
Overly grand self-valuation can lead to a great abstinence in life. The guy who believes that the world will stop if he dies will ultimately be afraid to take any risks—he won’t get to enjoy life as he is too busy focusing on the trivial. The guy who realizes that life is cheap will enjoy life to a much greater extent—he realizes that taking risks and living for the moment. He focuses upon pragmatic solutions to problems and would not hesitate to kill if he had to. He understands that the system is not there for his direct benefit, but something he must navigate within during his time. Perhaps he can even find ways to exploit it.
A guy on Wall Street might be a man of respect within his circle. He may have a lot of money, he may have a nice house, a nice car, sexy wife, but then what? He may be envied by the people on Main Street, he may even use their envy to fuel his fire, but if the system were to collapse, the people who envy him will certainly not come to his aid. Instead, they will come for what he has.
I’ve met a wide variety of people over the years. I’ve dealt with the types that hold themselves in such high regard who speak freely on opportunities they’ve had, the great things they have accomplished, yet they haven’t gotten very far. If their greatness was truly so great, then why have you not moved beyond this? What are you doing? Why are you down here with the rest of us instead of out being great somewhere else? You are not doing anything to advance your place in life—you are part of the status quo. I don’t understand—take your greatness and go do something great! Don’t try to convince the rest of us of how great you are! It’s mind boggling. Perhaps they actually have a bit of doubt? Perhaps they really are not all that they profess and they are simply seeking external validation through others to make themselves feel better?
I realize that my existence is not that amazing. Sure, people rely upon me, I bring enjoyment into the lives of others, there are certain vital functions I perform, but I also understand that I am entirely dispensable. I could die tomorrow and it would not be a big deal. Because of this, I have no problem indulging. I try not to abstain. I’m fine with taking risks. I am able to enjoy and experience rather than abstain and be miserable. I also have plenty of real and practical knowledge. If this society were to collapse, I could easily hold my own. I know how to hunt, I have tools to survive, and am well skilled with primitive living. But there are so many around me who are not. It is for that reason that I have no reservations about using lethal force to protect what is mine and that which is part of my tribe.