Column: Media should show equal worth among human lives

Column: Media should show equal worth among human lives

Scrolling through headlines of the New York Times, there is a clear dichotomy of human worth that plagues the minds of countless Americans. “Bombings in Baghdad Kill More Than 2 Dozen Civilians.” “Suicide Bombing Near Pakistani Military Headquarters Kills at Least 13.” “American Soldier Killed in Taliban Attack on Afghan-U.S. Base.” And if read further, that last article goes on to mention that 23 innocent civilians also lost their lives, although not giving quite as much space in comparison to the American hero himself. And while there’s nothing wrong with honoring the fallen heroes of this country and lauding them for the sacrifices they make for American freedom and security, there is a grave disservice and dishonor that the media, and as a corollary, the American populace, is doing to the citizens of this world.

Through the media, we have begun to assign greater worth to the life of a singular American than to the lives of countless ‘others.’ One American soldier receives as much press coverage as 23 innocent civilians. As we honor the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. this week, this phenomenon becomes even more disheartening. While his struggle was located domestically, his pleas and arguments extend all across the globe, pining for equality and an end to injustice. And yet, this continues. There is no moral truth to an American soldier having greater intrinsic value than an unnamed civilian living in Baghdad, or in Syria, or in Afghanistan. Morally, they are worth the same, or perhaps skewed in favor of the civilian who lost his life in a military struggle without actively signing up to be a part of that as our dear soldier did.

This mentality of American exceptionalism only hinders American progress. Death tolls throughout the world grow rapidly, whether they are from wars, famines, natural disasters, or other events, and yet Americans stay concerned solely with their own kin. As a leader of the world, and as strong, free, and relatively wealthy citizens, it should be our moral duty to aid and honor those throughout the world who have lost their lives or are struggling to barely maintain them. And as our government works to better our quality of life domestically, so should we, as citizens of the world, aim to better the quality of life for those all across the globe.

Fundamentally, we are all human beings and should be honored as thus. There is no one man who is inherently better than another, and the loss of life of any one man affects the world equally. Too much emphasis is given on American aspects in regards to world news, skewing American perception of the world and shedding a ‘better’ light on Americans and a ‘worse’ light on non-Americans. But in order to truly remember and live up to Dr. King’s teachings, we as a nation and as a people need to reverse this effect, honoring the life of each innocent civilian in Baghdad the same as the fallen soldier in Afghanistan.