African American Creative Nonfiction Sad

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My Soapbox

How much is a life worth? I once pouted for three weeks after my grandmother accidentally sent a blank birthday card. She promised to bring double when she visited in a month for the fourth. She was not my favorite person until I got all twenty dollars counted out in my hand. My feelings about things have changed from childhood to now. If someone had asked the 10-year-old me this question, I might have said $10, my allowance and birthday ransom amount. I didn’t learn the meaning or value of money until I had been on my own for a few years. As a child, everything is provided for you. Even though I was living in my apartment at 17, I didn’t worry about a budget because social security benefits from my father’s passing two years back allowed me independence that most teenagers didn’t, so it was like monopoly money. Throughout high school, I worked two jobs, even with the benefits from my dad; I was a workaholic. I never thought about the worth of life, mine, yours, or anyone else, until I was a parent.

Now I know that question has too many answers—a set monetary amount when you ask the couple struggling to create life. The cost of egg harvesting and storage robs each couple every month. Hopefully, it works on the first try, but each couple makes at least two attempts on average. The cost is priceless… once they have a baby, the cost of in vitro- is very trying mentally and over thirty-five hundred for each shot.

I have friends that love children, but after $1.5M in medical, relocation, counseling, and 5 in vitro attempts, they’ve become the best foster parents I know. Each attempt set this couple on a collision course with mental health and poverty until they decided to adopt a neighbor’s unwed daughter’s child. A blessing in disguise for everyone…. the child was a product of date rape. Like many rape victims, the mother couldn’t raise the child without reliving how the baby was conceived. As the baby developed, the mother became more depressed because friends stopped associating. The rumors circulated because the girl dated the father from tenth grade until prom night; just like many guys, he wanted to keep up his reputation but couldn’t accept NO! Parents don’t want their children to follow the crowd or become pregnant. Since adopting the neighbor’s son, my friends have fostered over 20 and put 3 through college; their son graduated from UVA School of Law.

If you ask the hardworking mother of 3 with COPD what’s life worth to her, she’ll tell you… every breath! She’s thankful for each given morning and the completion of every day. She has been living with a portable oxygen tank on her back, like her favorite backpack, since 2001, after suffering a stroke at 39 during childbirth. Like many, she was a smoker for 15 years, following the “in-crowd “she started in high school. Her insurance doesn’t pay for her life-saving medication; 100% of her paycheck is left at CVS.

I know many people that look at their hospital bills and say someone put a value on human life and surviving is overpriced—especially those awaiting organ transplant surgeries. In the past twenty years, the number of donating individuals has decreased by over a third. So many that wish to donate can’t because of previous drug or tobacco use. Everyone on death row should be tested to make them contribute or no more appeals. Once their appeal is exhausted … start harvesting. I realize there are innocent individuals in jail but if the DNA mapping doesn’t clear their names… give back to society! Cynical, maybe; I’m sorry, I do believe every life is priceless. No one person is worth more than another.

The parents of a slain young black man will tell you that no amount of money can replace their loved ones. They’d rather have the responsible party trade places with their son, brother, husband, or father. Too many faces of senseless violence have populated the news lately. Now the very people employed to protect the citizens of every town, hamlet, city, and the Burroughs in these United States has become judge, jury, and executioners. There used to be an expected innocent until proven guilty; nowadays, police shoot instead of asking questions. I don’t blame it all on corrupt cops… the sign of the times makes trusting anyone hard. I would love to rewind time to when we could settle things with a dance-off instead of fists or guns. I wish people would talk before “jumping salty.” So many situations go from zero to sixty over simple disagreements and not understanding each other’s opinions. I know the shoot-first mentality should not be the law enforcement policy.

Human life is not worth anything, no apparent value, according to the news. Just the weekend, a man killed three members of the University of Virginia’s football team and injured two others; because he was being bullied. No idea if his victims were the bully and associates or just random. Mental illness is rising, and they can easily purchase a gun or all sorts of weapons to create an arsenal. Why does a person with a death wish want to take as many people with them as they can? I hope they understand that they ensured the people killed safe passage into Heaven.

I have not always had this outlook on the world or felt that humanity was doomed, but I can’t help but say we have got to change so drastically. Bring back love, kindness, caring, and generosity for me to believe that the world will survive another century. Individuals with money need to be leaders and teach others how to earn more. Everyone needs to leave the attitudes toward other races and nations out of conversations and respect each other’s opinions and desires. Everybody hopes to return home in the afternoon worldwide; we are alike in this feeling! I pray for my children every time they leave home until they return.

November 19, 2022 01:02

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