the worth of a life

There has been a lot of speculation in philosophy, music, writings, and film about the value of a life.  How much is your life worth?  What makes it valuable?  We see people that tally themselves up by the amount of money they have – others, by the amount of money they give away.  Some by the happiness they have and others by the size of their family.  Would you die knowing you were saving another person’s life?  Would you press the button knowing you would come into a fortune, but also knowing that someone somewhere would die?

I think that measuring the value of your life in dollar signs is greedy and foolish.  Measuring it by happiness is absurd.  After all, while it’s wonderful to be happy, some of the most influential and admirable historical figures suffered greatly, and I would not say their lack of joy made their lives less valuable.  In this case, I think of Anne Frank, of Gandhi, and of Martin Luther King Jr.  They had happiness, to be sure, but there were times of great misery and it was the conviction in those moments that has set them apart from others.  And in family?  There are many who I am sure are kind, wonderful people who by choice or nature are unable to have a family.

There is a song called “Seasons of Love” that I think sums up my beliefs on the value of a life very well.  It is the opening song (film version) of the musical Rent.  For those unfamiliar, Rent tells the story of a group of young adults living in poverty in New York City at the turn-of-the-century.  Each one has struggles – money, morality, health, and happiness.  The opening songs asks bluntly “how do you measure a year?” and lists all the possibilities before settling on love.  Love given and love received are incredible tokens.  They show the true heart of a person, how they are valued by those around them, and how they choose to live their daily lives.

So for me, I chose to “measure [my] life in love”.

“Value” – The Daily Post, Oct. 2, 2016

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I strive to be intelligent, creative, brave, strong, patient, kind, and happy. What more is there in this world?

3 thoughts on “the worth of a life

  1. “Rent” describes measuring life in love. Just to let you know, in the stage version, “Seasons of Love” opens up the second act. The message of “Rent” is why the musical matters to me and in a way, I can relate to the struggles of the characters. I still have not been to the theatre to see it live, but it is finally coming to my hometown next year. I may not have ever seen it live, but have seen the dvd of the final performance on Broadway

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    1. Thank you for the information! I’ve never seen the stage performance myself, so my information relies on the film. I believe that the film still brings across the beautiful message. I hope you enjoy seeing it on stage next year. 🙂

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      1. I will. It already has been a meaningful show since Fall of 2012. I feel in love with it just by listening to the songs. My parents later found the filmed adaption of the stage show and that is my only experience with the stage show. “Rent” teaches you how precious life is and that it is more important to measure it in love.

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