Let us pray for our neighbours in the Philippines; may Allah give them strength and ease their hardship.
I have been staring at the screen for too long, thinking about ways to begin this particular essay, but nothing comes to mind, so this awkward sentence will serve as the introduction. Sorry for that. I had been thinking about the value of human lives , the value of my own, and the value of yours ,and suddenly had the urge to write something and make myself look clever. That way, I might raise the value of my life higher than yours.
Please continue reading even though the previous paragraph makes no sense. Thanks.
In economics , a rational consumer is assumed to be able to rate and define his preferences, in an ordinal way. A friend of mine for example, likes coffee more than tea, and likes tea more than orange juice. If he ranks his preferences, then coffee would take the first place, and orange juice the third . Can we do such rankings upon human lives?
If I have four wives , perhaps I can make a ranking based upon the performance of each of my wives; I seriously think it would be disastrous at the end though. We have had various measures of valuing human lives; starting from rankings in school examinations to achievements in the work place. People who had succeeded in their education and their careers might value themselves more than others, just like some ministers who view themselves high apart from penniless villagers who sometimes can’t even read.
Those who studied abroad might think that they are better than their local counterparts- perhaps even going as far as saying that local students are narrow minded and closed to worldly views. Can we really put values upon people’s lives that way?
In our religion, there is no such thing. No matter how highly accomplished one is, there is no way that he can claim that the value of his life is higher than others. The competition is open and fair in this religion, that no one has an advantage over the other. A beggar can always be better than a king-and the case is almost always so. Poor people can be better than the rich; in the judgement of Allah- after all He values the deeds of men and the condition of their hearts- not education certificates and yearly incomes.
Even a religious scholar can’t claim that he is better than a sinner, since at the end , nobody knows what are they going to be.
I am trying to establish an agreement with you that we can’t value our lives more than others. We do not have the knowledge of other people’s deeds and the condition of their hearts, and thus we are unable to judge others.
If you agree with the previous statement, then I would like to add another factor that we had used to differentiate ourselves from others; national borders and IDs. I have seen people cringing at the sight of foreigners in the city centre, sometimes even swearing at them out of spite. In my hometown for example, there had been an influx of Bangladeshis who came to work in construction sites and factories, and the city centre is crowded with these newcomers in the weekends.
People have become afraid to walk in the city and had refrained from doing so, citing safety reasons and increasing street crimes. They put the blame upon the foreign workers. They speak as if their own sons and neighbours are saints; free of any crimes and wrongdoings. We put the value of our lives higher than those immigrants, because we are citizens of this country. We made it sound as if those people are less civilized than we are, yet we don’t have any right to do so.
The recent shooting case was a prime example. When the security guard-supposedly a foreigner- shot the bank officer in the face, the majority of foreign workers received the blame. We somehow managed to stereotype all those foreign workers as the leading cause for crimes and violence. We blame them, as if our own citizens did not shoot others in the face.
What is it that makes the lot of us regard themselves better than those immigrants? Is it because we are citizens of this country, and they aren’t? This world was not created with borders. Such lines and fences never existed to begin with. Why should we restrict ourselves in man-made borders, and go to the extent of discriminating the ones outside?
A difference in income does not make us better than those foreign workers with minimum wages. The difference in nationality never gives us any advantage upon any people, nor does our birthplace, skin colour and race. We do not own the land, and neither does the government, that we might put borders and claim the nation as ours. I might sound like a communist there- but it’s true- as our time upon this planet is just so short.
It seems ironic that while we try to fight racism in this country, discriminating immigrants does not seem like a wrong thing to do. As if that in itself is not racism.
I will not go as far as to stand in the city centre and give free hugs to immigrants. But I will say this; we have no rights to claim that the value of our lives is ever better than anyone else.