The value of human life

Human life is sacred, no exceptions.

Of course, few people would attribute absolutely no value to human life, but, many people do possess certain judgements and opinions that are inconsistent with the absolute value of human life.

What do I mean by that?

Think of somebody in your day-to-day life who you hate, who drives you up the wall. Would you be glad if that person were to suddenly die? To most people, of course, the obvious answer would be “no”. And why is the answer no? Because human life has an innate value that would render its loss a sad event, or a major injustice in the event of a murder.

However, people often tend to perceive exceptions to this principle of moral law; it is an unfortunately common perception that gross violations of moral law can make a person deserve death. Those who believe in the death penalty would think, for instance, that electrocuting a murderer is “justice served”. Assuming that the criminal in question is within a secure justice system and could otherwise be confined to a jail cell without a reasonable fear of his escape, what kind of justice is that? The proper function of a justice system is to prevent and deter crime; a culprit of such a high crime, if imprisoned for life, is very unlikely to commit further offenses. The will to kill him, in this case, stems solely from emotion, the desire for harsh retaliation.

The problem with believing in “killing for justice” is that it represents a reduced sense of value for human life. Killing another human being is only justified in a select few situations, in which the direct culprit of such high and infamous crimes as mentioned earlier represents such an immediate, likely, and direct threat to the lives of others that he/she cannot be securely imprisoned. If an intruder with a firearm were to shoot you, for instance, shooting him in self-defense wouldn’t be a problem. Or, say that an army unit has captured a leader of a terrorist organization responsible for the deaths of thousands, but his allies (hypothetically speaking) are approaching in large numbers to retrieve him. In the context of the immediacy of the situation, that the soldiers would not likely be able to bring the culprit to trial, he is directly dangerous enough to kill. Human life may only be sacrificed in this manner if it is absolutely necessary.

On that note, it is also wrong to wish for the death of any other person. Even for the homicidal home invader described in the first scenario, potentially fatal force should only be used as a last resort; to believe that a person deserved death anyways is to imply that his/her actions have destroyed the value of his/her life, and it can be taken away. No. Human life is sacred.


5 thoughts on “The value of human life

  1. Human life is sacred, i completely agree. But then when you say death penalty should not be given to people who are not threats, how would you deter others from committing a crime? What I am trying to say is that the death penalty was maybe put in place to scare people, and if you do not follow through with that then how will the threat work? Moreover the value of life has decreased phenomenally in recent days, i mean a lot of people do not really need a reason to kill, Look at breivik.

    • The death penalty isn’t an effective deterrant. Statistics here in the US show that states without the death penalty have consistently lower murder rates, statistics provided below.

      Second, how can you say that the value of life has decreased phenomenally? I’m not really sure what you mean, you use Breivik as an example, but his actions were wrong. He had no reason to kill anybody, but what bearing does that have on the value of human life?

      • Ok about the death penalty, it might be working in the US which is great but other countries i am not sure.
        The reason why i said value of human life has decreased because of three incidents that i know of taking place in state in India
        1.A guy who tried stepping up and stopping a classmate from teasing a girl (He was 17 years old) was brutally beaten to death by more than 15 people out of which 3 were children. For more information type Ansh Agarwal on google.
        2.2 guys who tried to stop a few girls in their group from being eve-teased were shot to death on the streets.
        In both the cases above the accused were not gangsters.
        Another story that made me say that is this,
        In a village a 14 year old guy stabbed his classmate because he tried bullying him.
        Now the city which I am talking about is Mumbai, it is not a small city but is recognized worldwide. Similar instances happen in other countries too. Hence i said value of human life has decreased.
        Coming back to breivik, he did that because he wanted to “clean” his country and it was a freedom movement for him.

      • Ok…in all of those examples you mentioned, the perpetrators were wrong in doing what they did. They can think that what they’re doing is OK, but the morality of an action is not influenced by the perception of any human being.

  2. You know i actually agree to what you are saying, personal perception can never change morality. I want people to believe human life is sacred, but the instances happening just keep on shaking this belief.

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