How do we value life?
In our South African society, the cash price may be as little as R500,00, if a cellphone resale is to be seen as the lowest common denominator.
How did we get there? Many years of Apartheid, for sure, eroded the self-esteem of the vast majority, who were seen as sub-human pawns on the proverbial political chessboard. Numerous other factors – education, water shortages and more – have played a role. Yet we are, as I write, more than 14 years into our democracy. Why has the situation not improved?
I think it’s easy to lament the government’s lack of performance, without noticing its lack of focus. If we are concerned with water, electricity (or lack thereof) and housing, do we invest in self-esteem? Do we invest in capacity-building, which helps people adjust a residual poverty-mentality? Do we facilitate option-thinking, creative business exploration, or merely wait passively for someone “up there” to please figure out a solution for us?
This is a complex issue, needing attention, not patronising or blind-eye treatment. The death toll on our road reflects a focus on speed as the ultimate cause. Not true. A decrease in deaths is more likely based on the economy, as fewer holiday-makers are travelling. This focus drives behaviour and spending, yet the fruit is tasteless and perpetuates the staus quo. We won’t admit evidence here, even, about hidden financial motives.
Crime is rampant. Our friends and families are subject to an HIV epidemic on all sides. We can change our focus, and work on what really matters: truth.
The real value of a life? That of my own.