Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The value of a life

Paul Newman passed away last week. He was one of my favorite actors and seemed like a decent and principled human being. I'm sure he's missed by many.

In my local newspaper, the news of Newman's death is prominently placed at the top of a page, with three pictures. Under it on the same page is the story of the deaths of 13 premature babies in the Izmir Tepecik Research and Training Hospital in Turkey. This, after the deaths of 27 other infants in August in another hospital, in Ankara.

I am not berating the newspaper editor for placing more importance on the death of one man over that of multiple infants. I'm just struck by how differently lives are viewed. I'm sure each person who died is mourned by those who love him/her, but the world doesn't know the infants, whereas Paul Newman is famous. Does it mean that a person who's had a bigger impact deserves more recognition? How does one quantify impact, and does it matter that nobody except family and friends would mourn a death?

Of course I know that each life is valuable and it's meaningless to compare the value of one life over another. Yet, I'm feeling a bit melancholic.

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