The Value of a Life
How do we place a value on a person’s life?
Throughout history, that is a concept that has plagued mankind. The belief that some people are not our equal has resulted in untold misery for the human race. Regrettably, we have not always learned from our mistakes, so consequently, many of those negative attitudes and stereotypes still exist today.
Unfortunately, that is sometimes true for the men and women we employ. The adults we work with have developmental disabilities as well as physical challenges. Does that somehow make their lives less valuable? No, it does not. But too often, what we consider to be our “differences” are used to elevate one person or group over another. However, it is a fact that in the important ways that matter, we are all the same.
See if you agree with the following statements:
· The life of a person who is nonverbal has the same value as someone who is a gifted public speaker.
· The life of a person who uses a wheelchair or a walker is just as valuable as the life of a talented athlete.
· The life of a person who cannot drive has as much value as an individual who owns a Lexus.
· The life of a person living in a group home is just as valuable as the life of someone living in a gated community.
· The life of a person who works in a supported environment has the same value as the CEO of a corporation.
While it may seem that these comparisons become progressively more extreme - the particular circumstances of the people do not matter. Either we believe one life is equal to another – or we don’t. As soon as we start making exceptions, we begin heading down a road that leads to misconceptions, narrow-mindedness, and intolerance. That is because equality is an all-or-nothing proposition. We do not have the right to arbitrarily pick and choose which lives we think have the most value.
Sadly, when we do not embrace equality for all, society suffers. People, through no fault of their own, are excluded. They are marginalized and pushed aside. They are unfairly judged and disrespected.
However, when we open our hearts and minds and practice acceptance, tolerance, and inclusion, we all benefit. If everyone is allowed to participate and contribute in life, we can learn from each other. We discover how much we have in common. And when we support and encourage everyone, we allow people to reach their potential.
That is exactly what we do at The Meadows. The adults we employ are allowed to progress at their own pace. As they become comfortable in our work environment, they are encouraged to attempt new tasks while being given the support they need to accomplish the job. Most importantly, they are accepted for who they are, and they are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.
The adults we are privileged to work with show us that the true value of a life is the joy a person brings into the world. It’s the way they treat others. It’s how they make people feel. It is the happiness they share. Those are the positive qualities our workers demonstrate every day.
Each one of these men and women makes the world a better place just by being themselves. That is why they are living proof that every life has the same value.