The Value of Human Life…My perspective as a US American
living in India. May 2021
The crisis in India is really bringing light to the value placed
on human life. I have lived and associated with mostly those in the middle to upper
middle class here in India and have not been exposed much to the poorest of the
poor. It’s not talked about in our conversations, and if I have brought it up
it is often countered with a listing of the government programs in place and
the willingness of the various religions to feed and clothe people. I often choose
not to pursue the topic due to my own discomfort.
My understanding is that during the first wave of COVID the
massive effect in places like Delhi and Mumbai, where slums house millions, so
many people died that there was no way to accurately count them. Once the countable
cases were somewhat managed because the middle class & above got their
masks, were able to social distance and pump-up personal hygiene, victory was
declared. But these considerations weren’t feasible for the poor. They can have
5, 10, 20 people living in an 8x8ft space where social distancing isn’t possible
and getting someone to medical care is fraught with obstacles.
Now, almost as if Mother Nature is asking “Really? All that
and you still don’t recognize the value of human life at every level?” the
virus has returned and is hitting the middle class and higher. Hard. Healthy,
young adults are not only getting sick but dying. In huge numbers. This loss of
life is what brings the crisis to the front pages of local and international
news now: The loss of life of those deemed worthy enough to count. Locals who
can are understandably using their resources to attain the care and supplies by
any means necessary. But even then, they aren’t able to save their loved ones.
They too must watch in helplessness as their parents, spouses, and children suffer…just
as the poor do.
But don’t think this is just the case in India. In the USA
they were forced to look at their own disparities when those who work in the
service industries were desperately relied upon to keep everyone’s lives going.
Service people, in varying degrees according to the industry, are paid far less
than most. So, the poor in the US were brought to the forefront with a spotlight
on racism within the crisis as well. Appreciation was shown through claps and posts of gratitude, and minimal financial help from the government."
But has this pandemic caused enough disruption for people to
truly learn to value human life at every turn? Doubtful. The political
situation exemplifies how there is still lying and greed clinging for power
with little to no regard for human lives on many levels.
I can’t speak much for the other countries because I haven’t
experienced them at the level I am experiencing the US and India, but I’m guessing,
in all its intelligence, Mother Nature is bringing to light much of the same
Will we learn this time that all human life is valuable
regardless of wealth, contribution or intelligence? (Make no mistake, I believe
in one’s right to choose to die, a woman’s right to make decisions for herself,
and the value of all sentient beings. In this article I am talking about the general
duty of care towards humans being able to live day to day.)
In India you basically either have a servant or you are a servant.
To me having help is such a privilege. I work to establish a relationship with
the women who come to my house. I consider them part of my family coming every
day. I care about their health, how their families are and their general
well-being. I do my best to work along side them and gain their trust. I have witnessed
locals who came over sometimes not even making eye contact with the help or
randomly ordering them to do something.
There are similarities in the US. Those who do cleaning,
garbage disposal or jobs considered to be “menial” are treated as “less than”
at every level by customers, government, media, etc. I believe this is a bias holdover,
unconscious to some, from our slave history.
In both countries, education seems to be one of the key
factors in how you will be treated. In the US, those doing certain service jobs
tend to be those who have less traditional education, so they aren’t considered
as “valued” as professionals. In India, if you don’t have a master’s degree
minimally then you’re not considered that well-educated and therefore your words
and opinions don’t hold much weight, or more so, if there is a person in the
room with an advanced degree, their opinion is given more weight regardless of the
subject at hand.
Yet the US just went through a year in which the service
industry (behind the medical industry) was the most valuable…but they aren’t being
paid a livable wage. In India, families were filled with stress when their help
wasn’t allowed to come to work during lockdown, yet they are still not allowed to
eat at the same table the family eats at.
I’ve been thinking a lot about two women here in Pondicherry.
They both greet people outside of this specific café with bags or bracelets to
sell. I’ve never bought from them. I smile at them but tell them no thank you.
Sometimes they are very persistent, once even grabbing my arm as I turned away.
I got irritated and demanded she leave me alone. I’ve felt horrible about it
ever since. I think about them every day now, wondering if they are okay. The café
is closed, and no one is out so there is no sign of them.
Some believe there is a “culling” taking place at a metaphysical level in order to raise the consciousness of the planet. Some believe it is a deliberate attempt by a group of humans/beings to gain ultimate power. To me, the biggest topic that stands out is the recognition of the playing field between all classes being brought to equal standing. This could only be done by a Higher Intelligence. The question is – Will we keep our eyes open to see the devastation of who we’ve become as humans? Will we look at how we determine who is valuable enough to make sure they can eat, have clean water, who has the opportunity to be educated, who has the opportunity to work and be paid properly for doing so?
Life needs myriad roles filled. When it comes to the value of human life,
should wealth, education or the role they play matter in whether or not they
are cared for in health, wealth and the pursuit of a fulfilled life by the
collective? Are we willing to wake up and look at ourselves in the mirror yet?
Are we willing to admit that we don’t truly walk our talk when it comes to
valuing life? You. Me. Every one of us. Are we willing to put aside things like
“that’s just the way it is,” shrug our shoulders and walk the other way, and
instead say “this isn’t right, this person’s life matters as much as mine” and
then actually act on that? I think strides are being made in some circles. I’m
going to place myself in one of those.
If you’d like to contribute
to India in some way resources are listed here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/10ca5YH5YUtp7Qe63sVNX1SlepQcvzc4RCwLhMBvTJyE/edit?fbclid=IwAR3M4v5wU3Bs5rbxVLeiOc21cuRtD11EGdPHgG9YdnuZBmBz5lD_IhRSx30
Please do your own research before choosing an
organization to donate to.
photo: Jaime Top