How expensive are you?

Zimbabwe has become characterized by those assuming that gold and other precious minerals are more valuable than human beings. How can murderers compare human life with the value of minerals for which they kill others? The death of a human being is something worth to be mourned for. Jesus did not die for precious minerals, but for human beings, who should be regarded as more valuable than anything that can be exchanged for money.

But, if truth be told, do most people mourn over the death of the Mashurugwi murderers? The value of such terrorists is as degraded as cannot be exchanged for anything. Some people may, actually, celebrate when such people get killed in gun battles with the police. But this does not, necessarily, mean that such murderers would be different from other humans.

Murderers are also included in the grace, availed by the death of Jesus. The same applies to those strutting in government offices, yet causing unnecessary suffering to ordinary people, through bad governance. The value of a human being cannot be exchanged for anything, as that would be trivializing the death of Jesus. It is a pity that those murderers, whether used or not, may not be aware of the degradation they would have fallen into.

I use the Mashurugwi example, to describe the degradation that has befallen humanity. As long as any person puts value in money, ahead of self, that person would not be different from the Mashurugwi gangs. What would be the motive of engaging in corruption? Would that be to increase a person’s worth, or to increase the value of his possessions? Apparently, increasing the value of a person’s possessions, at the expense of his own dignity, would be the aim.

There are people who envy those who corruptly acquire wealth, in this life. My hope is that this article helps such people to think again. Ignorance causes people to assume that occupying expensive suburban areas is what increases the value of a person. One may drive the most expensive car, ever driven by anyone on this planet. But that does not increase that person’s value by a fraction, whatsoever.

Actually, the more a person aims at acquiring luxuries in this life, the more the person reduced his/her potential value. His/her value cannot be compared to anything material, in this world. This does not suggest that it is wrong to acquire expensive things. But the measurement of value is derived from benefiting other people. Wrongness is associated with putting a value on material things, ahead of a person’s personal integrity.

Let us first describe what makes a person valuable. This is not difficult, as everyone knows that value is determined by those benefitting from that which is valued. No-one values things that the person would have no use for. One values the car that is capable of taking him from point A to point B. But that cannot be more valuable than the driver. In other words, no-one can choose to die in the place of a car, regardless of how expensive that car would be.

man sitting holding Dead Not Alive! Thanks Obama placard

Obviously, the Mushurugwi murderer holds a different mindset. He can choose to kill a person for the car. The Mushurugwi murderer perceives value in material things than humans. The Mushurugwi murderer does not understand that he needs a doctor when he is sick. He needs a farmer, from whom to purchase food. Even the car for which he commits murder was assembled by humans. In other words, he cannot survive, without the services provided by other humans.

This is just as he needs gold, to sell to other people. Without other people, the glittering gold is valueless. Even owning a fifty-bedroomed house glittering with golden ornaments, is useless without fellow humans. One needs fellow humans before such possessions make sense. This is just as the death of a murderer reduces such properties to dilapidated condition unless there are humans to maintain them. But from where would those humans come from, as those would have dissociated with such a murderer?

Valuable things are valuable, only because of their potential usage by those valuing it. Funerals can be divided into three categories of mourners. The first category refers to becoming deeply remorseful, after the death of one’s benefactor. The death of a bread-winner is different from the death of a person regarded as a liability. Mourners experience the sense of loss, having lost someone who would be the source of their income and survival.

However, the story would be different, if the person having died would have been a liability. It is true that most people would express grief, as a matter of tradition. But, the tradition of grieving loses significance, after the death of a person who gives people discomfort. This is where tradition is fictitious, as carrying no substance. The idea of pretending to be what one is not, is what has led the Mashurugwis to behave the way they do. The second category, therefore, comprises those whose motive is for show-off, more than genuinely grieving after the death of a human being.

The actual value of a person does not come from pretentious behaviors. The loss of an undesirable person is still a loss, as the undesirable person would have carried some potential to be transformed. The valuable people are those who truthfully grieve, even after the death of those considered to have been dangerous in society. The valuable people are aware of the fact that all humans are equally valuable, regardless of background. The value of a human being is so important as to have caused the death of Jesus on the cross.

The death of a human being is cause for grief, regardless of whether a person is a murderer or not. But it ought to be grief in terms of appreciating the potential value of an individual, not necessarily his current worth. God Himself would rather have good people die, rather than the sinful ones (Psalms 116:15). If sinful people live longer, there is hope that they might, someday, realize the evilness of their overt behavior and change accordingly. This is why God rejoices at the death of the saints, instead, and grieves at the death of the sinful ones (Ezekiel 18:23).

The third category comprises mourners who rejoice after the death of a degraded individual. The funeral gatherings, after the death of Osama Bin Laden, were celebratory rather than for grieving purposes. Obviously, there were people who mourned but could not do so openly, afraid of being targeted. The demise of such a character, obviously, gives hope of survival to his innocent would-be victims. But such innocent victims are not, themselves, valuable people, necessarily, according to my rendition.

Valuable people still grieve, even after the death of murderers like Osama Bin Laden. Such valuable people fully understand that murderous are the victims of a skewed civilization. The murderers need to be accessed with the gospel that gives hope to the entire humanity, before their death. They are not different from everyone else, in this world. They carry the potential of being God’s children, as having also been created in God’s image.

What constitutes value is providing service to other people, and not, self-serving. One is valuable, only when other people benefit from one’s existence. What constitutes degradation is when fewer and fewer people access services from one. The astringent hate that one carries, against other humans, drastically reduces the potential value of that person. While some people may celebrate the death of Osama Bin Laden, such people would be murderers too.

Any person would not be different from murderers as long as wishing other people dead, for whatever reason. There is no value in a person wishing other people dead, just as the dead sinner would have held no value. This is just as those grieving after the death of their benefactor, but celebrating the death of their adversary, are categorized among the valueless people. The value of an individual is determined by the altruistic services towards others, and not determined by receiving benefits from other people.

The degree at which a person can be valuable is in remaining composed—helping his persecutors to eventually realize the wrongness of their behavior. This is one of the reasons why people like the late Nelson Mandela, are internationally deified. Those are people who know exactly the meaning of valuable consideration, in human life, regardless of the aberration characterized in those persecutors. Indeed, there cannot be any other consideration of better value in human life, surpassing what was taught by Jesus Christ:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:43-48) (NIV).

The degree of a person’s worth is in valuing the other person, regardless of his sinful characteristics. The most important consideration to be appreciated, at all times, is that all humans were created in God’s image, regardless of sinful backgrounds. Therefore, condemning another fellow human being is condemning God, or oneself. The works of Jesus are designed to salvage the lost humanity. All have sinned, as to come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). The Pharisees got bemused by what Jesus said after they had brought an adulterous woman before Jesus Christ:

“They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, ‘If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.’ Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, ‘Woman, where are they?’ Has no one condemned you?’ ‘No one, sir,’ she said. ‘Then neither do I condemn you,’ Jesus declared. ‘God now and leave your life of son’” (John 8:6-11) (NIV).

Here was a woman whose worth had been so degraded as to be condemned to death. But, among her accusers, none could stand up to declare being perfect as not deserving condemnation. Let us now try to imagine what must have crossed the mind of the woman having been condemned to die. What did she think of Jesus? What value could she place on Him? Of course, as far as she was concerned, she could not imagine any other human as valuable as the man who had saved her from condemnation.

Who is more valuable, between a millionaire and a steward who manages the household affairs of that millionaire? The steward values money, while the millionaire values the steward. The Steward values money more than a millionaire, who does nothing for him, except paying for his services. The steward ceases to find value in the millionaire who becomes stingy as to underpay him. The millionaire finds value in a faithful steward, carrying out orders, according to instruction, more than the money paid to the steward. Yet the opposite becomes true when such a steward fails to function according to expectations.

Jesus consistently told his disciples that the greatest among them would be the one taking the role of a servant. All this portrays common sense in human relationships. Value is determined by those benefiting from the benefactor. Money, on its own, does not feel the benefit and is useless when not used. Servanthood provides the only fulfillment of the principle: “Do unto others as you would like them do unto you.” The fewer people aimed at satisfying, the smaller the value of one’s worth. Conversely, the more people aimed at satisfying, the bigger one’s value.

But, any person carries the potential of being as expensive as cannot be compared to anything. The degradation comes out of being served. Having acquired this datum, the reader cannot help but engage in activities that would be considered valuable by other people. This is opposed to spending one’s life-time on projects that benefit self, without adding value towards others.

Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from the current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing relief to those having witnessed the strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long-awaited providential oasis of hope.

The Print copy is now available at Amazon.com for $13.99

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