Content Warning: If you are at the brink of an existential crisis, depressed from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic or suicidal, please do not proceed further with this content. Be advised that there could also be usage of expletives in this content.
Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction and any resemblance to a living or dead person, real events, countries are purely coincidental.
Zero, if you ask my existential nihilistic ass with ‘donate my organs and throw my ash into toilet if I die’ type attitude.
But if life by itself is meaningless with no intrinsic value when compared to the vast grandeur of the universe; the counter argument that if the life on our planet (and ISS?) are the only life in the entire universe, the value of our life becomes immeasurable also stands valid.
In that case, ‘Our Life’ is egotistic; life of every living being such as dogs, cats, pigs, single celled organisms and may be non-living things with nucleic acid such as COVID-19 causing SARS-CoV2 becomes immeasurably valuable if they exist only on our planet and man made objects in the space.
But is the value of the life of a person determined by that individual alone? On average, one’s life is invaluable to their family, loved ones and may be if lucky to have non fair-weather friends; to them too.
We might have some value with those whom we work for, work with and may be even those who are indirectly benefitted by our work.
Philosophers have been sharing their thoughts on this subject for thousands of years and Economists for past few centuries.
Considering we are all just commodities for our governments, the economic value of a person gets popped up when ever there is a very large global crisis. What is the source of economic value? The land, the landlord, the labour?
Asking the value of a person might sound insensitive or unethical, but that’s exactly what doctors overwhelmed by COVID-19 had to face, considering the shortage of the hospital resources, should it be allocated to dying elderly who have lesser years to live or to the young who have better chances of survival and more years to live?
What if the question is asked to the victims themselves? Is what I’m trying to think and write about today.
I’m going to put myself in the shoes of imaginary COVID-19 affected individuals from different walks of life, from different parts of the planet who have been given a truth serum and asked by the doctors Why should we spend our resources in saving your life? When we could save someone younger?
I am a Billionaire
I am a Billionaire, I have won the capitalism game, I have outgrown the law, Government bails out my company even if it’s our own financial mess because my organization is by itself a large living organism with thousands of employees, I am myself an organization with dozens taking care of my every personal needs; so by saving me, you are saving livelihood of thousands.
I am a Billionaire, I have learnt that wealth is a zero sum game, I now spend my time with philanthropic efforts solving hard problems, I have grown to a position where I’m content with loosing everything I have including my life.
I am a Politician
I am a Politician, I have made my career spewing fear of invisible enemies, now that there is really an invisible enemy I’m clueless on how to deal with it as the dumb shits which elected me are not believing that the threat is real, perhaps it’s because I dismantled the scientific institution systematically, anyways you should save me because which world leader wants to loose the unlimited access to money, power and sex?
I am a Politician, I have worked my entire life serving my people, I have not been elected to a position of significant power because I refuse to play against the rules which my opponents have no qualms about, I think you should focus your resources in saving the younger patient as I think everyone deserves a chance and may be that individual might become a successful leader who unites people together for values grounded in humanity.
I am a Scientist
I am a Scientist working on the frontlines to make a vaccine against SARS-CoV2, millions have listened to my advise to prevent contracting COVID-19 such as hand hygiene, physical distancing but my parents don’t listen to me as they believe in magic more than science, vaccine is their best bet for survival and hence I believe I should be saved for continuing my work to save millions including my parents.
I am Disabled
I am Disabled, I am angry at my ancestors that they didn’t raise against the segregation perhaps that would have created a better genetic pool, I am angry at my society that they didn’t advance scientifically enough to treat any medical ailments, I am surprised that you are asking me why I should be saved over a healthier younger individual!
I am Disabled, I’m tired physically and mentally; I’m tired of having to rely upon others over my entire life, I’m afraid that even if I survive this crisis people’s cognitive biases is going to discriminate against me further as people’s senses would be tuned to detect the unhealthy, I would wish for the younger, healthier individual to be saved over me for the same reason I didn’t apply the for the one-way Mars settlement.
I am a Labourer
I am a Labourer, my daily wages are required to feed my family, I’m struck hundreds of miles away from my village due to the lockdown, When I tried to walk to my village I was beaten by the police, I’m afraid hunger will kill my family before coronavirus and I don’t know how to answer your question.