Valuing life

The value of life

After the successful search and rescue of a suicide victim, as the rescuers celebrated their success, I kept wondering: what’s the value of a person’s life?

As we were about to end our conversation, another priest and myself, we received a call that there is an incident on the Dingli cliffs. Someone attempted suicide. As is his pastoral custom, we hurried to the cliffs to offer any spiritual aid we could. This was the first time for me to respond to a suicide scene, and surely, it left me marked.

These past months we have heard many a time the need to celebrate the front-liners, but never as much as that day did I appreciate firsthand their hard-work! The case in question, without entering into the particular merits, asked of some of these 30+ respondents to risk their life, while navigating wild terrain and operating in the blistering August heat. To this add the nail-biting race against time.

But what shocked me most was their strong resolve to save this person’s life. After the successful search and rescue, they came back up, breathless, wet in sweat and extremely tired, but with a smile on their faces because their mission was well done. As they celebrated their success, I kept wondering: what is the value of a person’s life?!

These respondents risked and endured much. Even the country’s coffers took a (minor) dent. All these efforts to save a person’s life who was committed to end it all. When faced with such gallantry by these men and women for others, one cannot remain untouched.

‘in the spirit of how they are enacted.’

Chris Fearne MP

They reminded me of the need to rethink our culture’s view on life, and its value. Sometimes we take it quite cheaply, taking unnecessary risks for the sake of an adrenaline rush. Some would be complaining that the imposed restrictions are curbing on their own freedom, but when one juxtaposes fun with health, the outcome is, or should be, obvious.

At the time of writing, I’ve just listened to Hon Fearne’s press conference, and was struck by his call to respect the restrictions ‘in the spirit of how they are enacted.’ This ‘spirit’ must be the ethos that guides our economic strategy: a spirit that looks at the human person in total.

Yes, the economy is important. Yes, it is creating psychological burdens due to lower (or possibly no) income, and yes, the economic future ahead will not be as fast-paced as the past couple of years. But, we need to look holistically at the human person .

Every minute action which we do to safeguard the health of others, is a Christian action per excellence. Pope Francis constantly reminds us to think of our shared home, and nothing spells a ‘shared home’ than valuing life and safeguarding the health of those weakest amongst us.

As I witnessed that Sunday evening, every life is immeasurably expensive, and as humans, we already go to great extents to rescue it from peril, even when that same peril was (somehow) willed. We do not weigh costings or efforts, but the main aim is to safeguard it. Similarly, we should strategise our economic policies in the weeks to come to look at the whole human person.

PS: Many thanks to those respondents for allowing me to witness Christian charity at its finest.

PS2: It is OK to not feel OK! IF you feel the need to speak with someone, please dial 1711 (Richmond Foundation’s helpline) or 179 (

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