As a kid watching Hollywood movies I was always confused when 9 men would be sent to rescue 1 man. It wasn’t the rescue mission that confused me; rather, it was the fact that usually 6 or more lives would be lost whilst trying to rescue that 1 man. The math didn’t work for me. 1 life in exchange for 6? Why was that 1 life more valuable than the life of those 6? It was something I attributed to be a mystery of life, not anymore.
(spoiler alert: if you haven’t seen Captain Phillips yet, I suggest you stop reading until you have. It’s a really good movie, I’d hate it if I spoiled it for you.)
If anyone killed a person not in retaliation of murder, or to spread corruption in the land – it would be as if he killed all mankind, and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind.
Quran: Surah 5, verse 32
In Captain Phillips, the Captain puts the lives of his crew before his own and every step of the way, his actions protect them. He acts as a leader should, being selfless despite his fear. So when the Pirates kidnap him, one wonders whether he’ll survive or not. When the US Navy arrives on the scene and they plan to either rescue him or kill him along with the pirates that’s when it clicks. The US teaches the world that it is costly for anyone to attempt to harm a single one of their citizens, because if they do, they will pay the ultimate price.
Contrast that attitude with attitudes in other countries around the world especially in the developing world and you’ll realize why it’s important for a Government and a society to value a single human life. In the developing world cases of violence, rampant murder, and political assassinations are very high. Suspected murderers roam free and innocent people are slaughtered at the whims of powerful people. Most people in the developing world know better than to expect justice for their loved ones. The reality is that developing Governments and societies do not value human life. They may say that they do, but their actions and policies show that they don’t.
When you value a human life, you care when malaria kills your citizens, care when car accidents that take lives occur daily because of bad roads, it matters to you when the water supply is dirty and causes cholera. Your actions show that you care not words or platitudes delivered to people during political campaigning.
The US Government sent a navy ship and a team of specialized Seals to go and rescue 1 man, Captain Phillips, so you can be sure that they would just as quickly fight a mosquito, sanitize their drinking water and ensure the well being of the rest of their citizens. Unfortunately the reality is that for most of the world life is very cheap. The only way we’ll start living in a better world is when we start valuing a single human life and start working towards ensuring that we do whatever it takes to save that 1 life, because once we do, then we are saying that we value all lives.