£12,000 the value of life?

January 30, 2009

So, there is quite a ruckus going on at the minute over the head of the Eames-Bradley report, which among other things has called for families of all those killed during the troubles to be given £12,000. Frankly I find the whole ‘recognition payments’ thing rather foolish. It has overshadowed other good ideas that come out of the report completely. It has opened up wounds of pain that it seeks to heal, as many families feel bitter at the ‘one size fits all approach’ (e.g. The families of the nine people killed in the Shankill Road bomb will receive the same amount as the family of Thomas Begley, who died carrying out the attack when the bomb exploded prematurely). And it also attempts to put a price on life. Is £12,000 too much? Is it not enough? Is money really the compensation that these grieving families want?

Apparently the monetary value of the minerals and skin that compose our bodies amounts to around £3.00. Now that seems a petty amount, and a price that completely devalues me as a person. So £12,000? It’s a considerable amount more, it’s a yearly wage, but I still think I’m worth more than that. Ask any of those families who lost a loved one during the troubles if they would pay £12,000 to have them back, and they would in an instant. Life does not have a monetary value.

The Bible tells us in the book of Genesis that we are created in God’s own image. If God who made the vastness of the universe, saw fit to create me in his image, as a being who loves relationships, who laughs, who cries, who feels love and pain, then surely that gives me much greater worth than any monetary valuation?

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