The value of life


Hundreds of billions of stars in hundreds of billions of galaxies…

In all of that, here we are.  Here, we became us.  From the most unlikely odds, our planet became the earth we know.  From the most unlikely odds, humans were born from that planet.  It occurs to me on occasion just how special we are.  It doesn’t occur to me often enough, I don’t think.  Life grinds and I forget how special this whole thing really is.  I forget to see the forest because I’m shadowed in the trees.

In all the pain and suffering that we inflict on each other;  in all the power grabs and rat races and struggles to survive it is so easy to become disenchanted with life.  It is so easy to take life for granted.  It’s almost as if it’s an automatic response of our brains to devalue life.  To oversimplify it.  To make it meaningless.  Is it so that we can feel strong comparing ourselves to others?  Is it so that we can shield ourselves from the suffering we see?  Is it so that we can justify our action or inaction?  Why do we ever forget how precious and special we are?

To take another life…I fear that for some the notion is too easy.  And it’s easy because we do not value that which we do not understand.  We fear it.  We make “the folks on the other side of the aisle” less human than us.  Less alive.  We assign qualities to them that are dictated by our own experiences, by the media, by religion, and we never let them have a life.  And my real concern is that our disconnect with each other, and maybe ultimately our disconnect with ourselves,  is fostering a dangerous dark habit.  A habit of minimizing human life.


Hundreds of billions of stars in hundreds of billions of galaxies…

We can learn so much from each other.  Our combined experience and knowledge is powerful beyond measure.  And yet, we diminish it.  We diminish each other for being different.  Our minds want to simplify things, to quantify them, to categorize them.  We make it Us versus Them when it’s really always Us versus Us.

I do not know where we go from here.  I do not know how we escape violence or inequality or poverty or power.  But I do know that we have to value each other before we can accomplish anything.  We have to value ourselves.  And we have to value this life that we are all living together.

The more we learn about the world around us, the more we must recognize and value the thing we call life.  The universe is vast.  More so than any of us can fathom, I think.  We are the only life in it.  And we, we are tiny among the stars.  But at least we are a WE.  At least we are a people living together.  Who knows what, if anything, will come from the hundreds of billions of galaxies we discover.  Who knows what the stars will teach us about ourselves.  I, for one, find comfort in that.  In the unknown.  I find comfort because I see that whatever we find, we’re in it together.  Whether we like it or not, we’re in it together.  Though I have moments of fear, I have far greater moments of hope.  I have many more moments of gratitude.  The value of this life is as vast as the universe.  For among hundreds of billions of galaxies we became us.  Life began.

Note: I honestly had no idea that Stephen Hawking passed away when I wrote and posted this morning.  I’d like to dedicate this piece to him.  One who truly understood both the great mystery and the great value of life.  “Look up at the stars not down at your feet” 

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