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Some people are worth less than others

About Subversive

Do you have your own gripe with your local or state government? And what are the streets like in your part of town, in your home state?

If you'd like me to fire a rocket up them, or a shoddy business, I'm listening! You can email me here.

We place a very different value on the lives of different people - a reflection of just how self-centred human beings are.

It is said often enough that all people are created equal. Indeed, this reflects a teaching in many religions.

Most people would say that everyone has similar intrinsic value. Indeed, according to the latest survey, more than 72% of Australians believe in gay marriage, or what is today known as marriage equality. This reflects a common view that people in our society are considered equal – what is good for one, is good for all and what matters for one, matters for all.

All these children should be valued the same, writes Subversive Sam.

All these children should be valued the same, writes Subversive Sam. Pic: iStock

But the fact is that not all people are seen as having equal value or worth. Tell me:

  • Why is a road death in our community more newsworthy than a road death on the other side of the country?
  • Why do we scream when an Australian is executed in Indonesia, yet say nothing when five foreign nationals are shot?
  • Why did we react as a community to the Paris bombings by ISIS, while hardly reacting at all to the more devastating bombings in Turkey just a day earlier?
  • Why were we up in arms about what is today called 911, when the US is killing that many innocent Pakistan residents each year and the same number of innocent Afghan residents every month?
  • Why are we appalled over a single person starving to death in Australia, when 10,000 die as a result of starvation EVERY DAY in Africa?

Most of us know about all of these events, but the fact remains that the closer to home the event, the more seriously it is viewed and the more dramatically we respond.

An exception may well have been the small boy who washed up on a beach as a result of the ISIS conflict. I am sure this is a case that some will cite. But in response, I note that this is one isolated case and, if something similar occurred in this country, there would have been much more that outrage expressed. We would have been protesting in the streets.

Even in Australia, placing differing values on people is more common than I would like. I work with an organisation that feeds hungry Australians. When I have told people how many meals we serve to children each week, I so often hear the response, ‘they would be Aborigines ……’, as if it is less of a concern if the affected person is not white.

To me, this highlights the biggest threat to humanity.

The biggest threat is not climate change, poverty, war, nor bent politicians – although the latter runs a close second. The biggest threat is the self-centred and self-focused nature of human beings. Further, the reason the world is getting more problematic is that people are becoming more self-centred and self-focused.

You see it all the time. Take a minute to watch people walking down the street. Most of them are lost in a world of their own, viewing their own issues as bigger and more important than anyone else’s. Most think they have a clearer perception of what is happening in the world and see it through the perspective of the impact it has on their lives.

If it does not affect me directly, it is less important; if it does not impact directly on someone I know, it is even less important; and if it does not impact on someone I cannot relate to, then it is not important at all.

So it goes for other people in the world. If it happens to family or a friend, it is devastating. If it happens to a fellow countryman, it is dreadful. If it happens to someone of their culture, it is terrible. If it happens to a person of a different culture, race and religion on the other side of the planet, it is sad.

If we see all people as having similar value, we will start to respect and care for them equally. Yet to view people as having similar value, we need to start being less lost in our own world and sense of self importance. 

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