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Summary: What is the Value of a Human Life

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In the play “Hamlet,” by William Shakespeare, Hamlet asks himself if he should die or continue living. This soliloquy features the famous line “to be or not to be” . This line is one of the most straightforward examples of contemplating suicide in plays written by William Shakespeare. As someone who struggles with suicidal idealization and intrusive suicidal thoughts on a near daily basis, I’ve found myself questioning if living was worth “the whips and scorns of time” . That quote, in which Hamlet shows his negative view of life proves that he saw no value in continued living. He stops himself from pursuing suicide due to the “dread of something after death”. A large amount of suicidal people to hesitate on following through with their plans of death due to the fear of the unknown. This exact realization has caused me to find some sort of positivity as I choose to battle my depression and continue living each day. The idea of assigning a personal value to your own life showed me that someone who has suffered deeply must rewrite their traumas into a story of growth, and view their perseverance as something they are valuable for.

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Society often assigns value to people's lives without knowing how those people valued themselves. Even if suicidal people who follow through with ending their own lives, outsiders see value in those lost lives by seeing how those individuals affected others around them. This raises the question if we should let suffering and illness affect how we value the human life. In the article “Roger Ebert: The Essential Man” by Chris Jones, the story of Roger Ebert, a successful film critic struggling with a cancerous tumor is told. Author Chris Jones, in this article, highlights how even on his deathbed, “Ebert takes joy from the world in nearly all the ways he once did”. This shows how neurotypical, self-fulfilled people with positive mindsets have high self-value in their lives even through fatal illnesses. Ebert states he finds value in his life “if we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier…that is the best we can do” . This quote proves how altruism impacts those who are suffering in a positive manner, and can assist in the transition from life to death.

Assigning a dollar value to a human life seems extremely difficult, especially with multiple factors including illness, personal achievements, and financial circumstances affecting the judgment of a compensation fund manager. The article “What Is The Value Of A Human Life?” by Kenneth Feinberg highlights the difficulty of putting a price tag on someone's life. Feinberg recalls his personal struggles and comes to the solution of “declaring all lives equal...all victims would receive the same compensation.”  No human life should be valued from someone else's, no matter the circumstances. No person is superior to someone else to judge on a moral level, therefore all people should be compensated and treated equally.In the matter of life and death, it is our personal responsibility to find our own values to keep us motivated. If one does not see value in their own life, they will live a pointless life. Someone who does find value in life will view their accomplishments of something that matters. The value debate all comes down to mindset and approach. 

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