The Value of Life

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)

Your life is your greatest possession. Neither your life nor the physical life of any friends or relatives or even pets can be restored by other men after their death. Although we can now clone pets, that exact clone will never actually be little "Fluffy."

How do we learn life is precious? With all of our violence and ridiculous hatreds one might believe this to be a difficult learning process, but it isn't. Ironically, one does not learn that life is precious through their death. Once you are dead you know nothing:

For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing. (Ecclesiastes 9:5)

You do not learn life is precious by your death. You learn life is precious when someone close to you dies! Someone you loved, knew, and spent time with. As you observe their face and body in their coffin, absolutely nothing moves, not an eyelash. It is him or her, but in a sense it isn't him or her. Their thoughts, actions, and emotions are gone. It's too late to have that last conversation with them. They are dead, and you feel their loss.

Do animals other than man suffer upon the loss of a friend or mate? I could relate several stories regarding grief expressed by dogs when a partner died, how they sniffed and dug around the grave of a buried animal for days or weeks on end. However, one can always claim the dog was simply smelling the scent of his partner and not truly expressing grief. So let me relate a true story of two birds.

While driving one day, the cars ahead of me began braking and steering around something in the road. Upon reaching that spot, a dove was nudging the dead body of her partner in the middle of the roadway, as if to say, "Get up! We're in danger here! We must fly away!" As cars got too close, she retreated to the curve, then returned as that car passed, risking her life for her mate. She did not understand death, but she knew something had happened and her world would never be the same again!

Since life is mans most precious possession, it is also his greatest possible gift. In several professions the possibility of giving ones life to save others is inherent. These include the military, peace officers, national security, rescue services, and others. These occupations are staffed by adults who understand and accept the risks inherent in their chosen professions. It is rare and unexpected when children sacrifice their lives for others. After all, we expect children to play and be childish:

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. (I Corinthians 13:11)

But on October 2, 2006 in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania, a murderer entered a defenseless one-room Amish schoolhouse, fatally shooting five girls and wounding five others. Male students and adults were allowed to leave while the female students were forced to line up facing the blackboard with hands bound. They knew they were going to be shot. At this moment a most incredible event occurred! In an effort to gain time and possibly save the younger children, the oldest child, thirteen-year-old Marian Fisher, requested to be shot first! She was then fatally shot. Next, if you can believe it, something even more incredible occurred! Upon witnessing her older sister volunteer and be shot to death, eleven-year-old Barbie Fisher immediately spoke up and said, "Shoot me next!" Barbie survived several gunshot wounds to tell her story.

Americans always find heroes when disasters and tragedies occur. Why? Because the heroes are always there! They're all around us! During the attack on 9/11 hundreds started up the stairwells of the World Trade Towers, and Flight 93 was crowded with them!

Many Americans have willingly and knowingly risked their most precious possession in an effort to save the lives of others. We have entered wars to defend other nations. But two children offering their lives to save classmates and friends is unique to my knowledge!

What produces even one such incredible child? Yet here we have two from the same family! The Amish cherish their privacy, but isn't this story worthy of scientific investigation? Is there some quantitative quality or substance which could produce such character? What elements in their environment or upbringing resulted in the end product of these two wonderful children from the same family? Heredity, food, vitamins, religion, restriction of modern conveniences? Is there any cause and effect here? If there is, just suppose that it could be identified and duplicated! Suppose it could be sprinkled on our food, or taken as a daily pill, or taught. Suppose any or all of us could turn out as loving, generous, unselfish, brave, and courageous as Marian and Barbie Fisher. Just imagine what a wonderful world this could be!