A couple of events transpired during the last two days have left me thinking and wondering over the value and sanctity we attach with the human life. Before I begin to narrate, it’s only relevant to mention the two events this post is based upon:
1- On Tuesday, 21st January 2014, there was a sad incident at my university (Purdue University) in which a young man was shot dead by another. Though the official version doesn’t mention the reason, the rumor has it that the deceased was a TA (Teaching Assistant) and the assassin held a grudge against him due to failing the exam. It resulted in a wave of shock and terror around the campus with suspicion running high.
2- On Wednesday, 22nd January 2014, I watched the Tom Hanks starrer “Captain Phillips”. The movie is based on true events, which took place in the April of 2009, written in the 2010 book “A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea” by the central character Captain Richard Phillips. It portrays the attempted hijacking of an American container ship, Maersk Alabama, at the hand of Somali pirates.
Both these events, in their own peculiar ways, stress upon the value and sanctity these so called developed and first-world nations attribute to the life of their people. After the incident on Tuesday, despite the fact that the gunman has surrendered himself, the law enforcement agencies were out there in action! Some of the main roads were barricaded along with major re-routing of public and private transport vehicles. Although the temperatures were in negative, one could see and feel vigilance all around the campus – please be reminded that the campus covers a total area of 72.55 KM2. Not only the quick reactive measures, the university went on to organize special counseling services to help normalize the traumatized students and staff. One can’t help but appreciate the efforts at personal and institutional levels in the face of a tragedy. Vivacious nations respond like this!
In the case of Captain Phillips’ abduction, the US Navy mobilized hell lot of equipment in order to rescue one man! Other than the Nave SEAL team, three large naval vessels (USS Bainbridge, USS Halyburton and USS Boxer) were assembled in order to ensure the safety and success of the mission. One might ask: “So much for only one man!”. The question, no matter how ludicrous, seems justified for the people of underdeveloped world. Our law enforcing organizations don’t necessarily serve to protect us; they have their own duties and jobs. It feels as if the state’s responsibility for the common people has ceased to exist in the third-world countries.
I have a theory that might justify this behavior: the importance is directly proportional to value; and value, in turn, is a cumulative effect of asset building. Reducing to bare bones, developed nations invest on their people; they undergo serious asset building exercises in order to add value to their human resource. This value later on becomes tantamount to importance; therefore more the asset building, more the value and more the importance as a result. Therefore whenever one of their resources gets under threat, these nations act ferociously and ensure the resource’s safety. It all sounds very plain and logical, no rocket science at all.
On the other hand, people in poor nations die unceremoniously; accidents, force majeure, criminal activities and what not. There is no stopping and no one even making an effort and taking the trouble to stop the otherwise avoidable deaths. It is mainly because there is no value attached to the life of those people in the eyes of state. It is taken as nothing more than a few newspaper items, statements of no substantial value and deceitfully superficial sympathy. But if looked from numerical point of view, this inhumane treatment shouldn’t surprise us; after all what did the state do to add value in their life that it should mourn its loss now. It’s pure economics with application to the human resources development.
In more plain words, this behavior is identical to one’s housekeeping practices; open your closet and you’ll understand how you treat your belongings differently: costly clothes wrapped and stored properly and daily use (not so costly) items just getting enough space and attention. If the individual attention to detail is limited by and based upon monetary value for their belongings why shouldn’t the same prevail at the larger level?
The third world countries are so mainly because of their third-class treatment of their people. The state of affairs won’t change until they start considering the people as assets and hop on to some serious resource building initiatives.