From the ancient Greek philosophers and thinkers to modern humanist theories, passing through Christianity and all religious and non-religious systems, human life, its existence on earth, has tended to be protected, albeit rhetorically, above all other considerations (I will not be the one to criticise this), although in actual practice this human life has been worth very little: of all the lives lost in the world every day, more than 40% are caused by agents of provocation: wars, implementation of policies for economic interests, massacres, attacks, assassinations… or simple disregard for human existence in certain cases, and not precisely for natural reasons.
This is the pharisaical circumstance that even human cynicism tries to ignore, conceal, hide, and sometimes even try to explain against all logic and common sense… Between the “sacredness of human life” and/or the strategic value of that same human life, the acknowledged reality is that there is a gulf that is difficult to explain.
It is legitimate to wonder in a society – ours – where human life has been quoted as a rising value due to the fact that a life is a vote (let’s recognise it once and for all) and a producer of something to be sold, which, if it were not so, the Judeo-Christian culture would have reserved for it the standard it has within the legislatures of Western nations… In the Middle Ages, to give a simple example, the value of those lives was a function of whether they died of the plague, exploitation by the medieval lord of the day, or in the sacrosanct crusades. These truncated lives had a price according to the interest established by those who then ruled, and according to the motives of their rule and their profits.
Today, all that is considered to have been overcome… We have evolved, we tell ourselves. Agreed, even if the life of a Syrian child does not have the same value for our deepest “us” as that of a Ukrainian child. Let’s face it. And we continue to sacrifice lives in wars, conflicts, struggles and revolts, sublimating them in the name of ideals, or ideologies, or whatever these are, when in reality they are in the name of politico-economic interests or purely for the sake of power. And the fallen may even be heroes, or executioners, or martyrs, invaders, defenders, soldiers, assassins, angels or demons… Whatever the title. They are available lives that are sacrificed for any given cause and which can be labelled as noble or dastardly, whether they are or not… Is that their real value?
However, science itself, medicine, which also justifies itself as being there to save human lives (and I won’t say it isn’t), also sometimes puts such a concept to shame, and those who maintain it at least raise what has come to be called reasonable doubt… I give a recent and real example: a drug has just come out that treats a rare fatal disease. It is Libmeldy, from the British pharmaceutical company Orchard Therapeutics, and it treats metachromatic leukodystrophy, a terrible genetic disease that arrests the development of children, often by the age of three, and is lethal by destroying neuronal connections. To give a figure, around four children are born with the disease every year in Spain.
The issue is that this drug is considered the most expensive in the world. Each dose costs 2.5 million euros for any health system that wants to buy it to save those lives… or should we say to buy those lives? or is it not available to save all of them? Because the treatment is not based on a single dose… So which ones will be saved and which ones will be left to die… or, faced with such a moral dilemma, will one end up not having to choose and opt for the ever valid moral patchwork of “God willing”…? And the million-dollar question: how does one act in conscience when one has to decide? And, above all, who puts a price on that decision and on that life?
Because, in the end, whether we find it repugnant or not, it turns out that human lives have a price put on them, no matter how much we are told that this human life has no price. Religions, politicians, oligarchies, financiers, those who make a living out of gilding the pill so that they do not lack their own, can sell us the idea of our incalculable and sacred value as human beings, but, when it comes down to it, this is not the case. That there are lives that are worth more than others, and that, in the end, they all conform to certain interests.
That our own human species has put a price on things, including ourselves, is the only true thing… Thank God, for the moment it is our presence, and not our essence (that is what I believe, of course), although many of them, and of us, and of those who are there and those who are here, have also sold our souls to the devil… But that is another one, my friends, that is another one…