Quality of Life is NOT Value of Life

I was talking to someone the other day and casually mentioned the topic of building a global “Value of Life” index. He quickly responded, “Value of life is a tough one, it’s so subjective based on who is valuing which life. I’d prefer the quality of life.”

The problem with this statement is that “Quality of Life” is an economic indicator, whereas “Value of Life” would be a human rights indicator. What’s makes it even more challenging is that “Value of Life” isn’t something we really think or talk about in the west. We’re taught to measure our lives by its quality.

But before humans everywhere can lead “quality lives,” their lives have to matter to their own government (and to them). In that sense, measuring for “Quality of Life” does not make as much sense when their lives are seen as insignificant.

Point is—we’re skipping a big step here. If we want to build a safer, stronger world, what we’re looking at is a global reorientation toward the value of life, starting with key human rights indicators such as a “Value of Life” index to facilitate the reorientation.

Most importantly, “Value of Life” isn’t just an indicator for lesser developed countries. If we think we’ve done our work in the west, look at the BLM movement. We absolutely have not.

The fight for equality is ONE fight

I am a 5 foot 3 Asian woman. That’s why I can say this. Asian women—If you don’t stand behind #blacklivesmatter, if you don’t show up for LGBTQ pride, if you don’t stand up for the person next to you that is being discriminated and marginalized, then you are not showing up for yourself. Because it’s all one fight. One fight for equality.

When we speak out against racism, it must ring loud and clear that we are also speaking out against homophobia and misogyny and classism. If our fight for our human rights isn’t intersectional, then it will become lost.

And I’m not just saying this to other Asian women. If you’re a gay white man and you don’t show up for #blacklivesmatter and #metoo—if you’re a white man overseas who has been racially targeted and you’re not showing up for ALL the other people who are marginalized, then you are the one weakening your own voice.

And if you are peacefully protesting right now, and you are not black, then you get up there and you stand in the front lines.

Trust me, there’s no “them”

Trust me, there’s no “them”

It’s heartbreaking and absurd that the words “all lives matter” have become a symbol for white supremacy. In a morally just world, these words would stand for equality, for human rights. But this is the world we have to face because these are the class systems that were built before us.

Things like racial equality, gender equality, LGBTQ equality, it’s all one fight—the fight for equality.

The only way to eliminate racism and sexism is to recognize this. I’m not a Asian woman standing with the black community. I am a human standing tall, proud, and unguarded with my brothers and sisters as I say that before all lives CAN matter here in America, BLACK LIVES MUST MATTER. We’ve got to stand together not as different races, but as humans, because the fight for equality is one fight.

Here is one of the most vivid memories I have of my childhood. My Father and I were at a gas station one evening when we saw a group of black men harassing an Asian man. They were pushing him around, chanting racial slurs, and I jumped out of the car to speak up.

My Father grabbed me and told me to get back in the car as he went to check out what was happening. When he came back, I remember asking him why people were so cruel to each other. I couldn’t, for the life of me, understand why skin color could cause people to do unspeakable things to each other. My Father and I had a long conversation that night about justice and history and government. His opening words were, “trust me, there’s no ‘them.’” And the very last thing he said to me before we went home was—

If you truly want to do something about it, get a good education so you can one day be in a position where you can make real change.

Those words changed the entire course of my life. I wrote in my diary that night,

The only color that matters is the color of your heart and your willingness to open it.

I may have been more naive then, but I meant it. The moment I turned 13, I had my parents sign a work permit so I could start working at the local library. When everyone else was watching TV and hanging out with friends, I was interning at court houses, law firms, and civil rights organizations. I knew what I wanted my life to stand for.

With the heart-shattering murder of George Floyd, I am again reminded of the young girl eager to speak up in the face of injustice. I am reminded that the system is not broken, but was built this way by governments to stay in power. I am reminded that the only way to create a better system is to give people the right thing to stand for, and to give politicians the incentive to stand for the right thing.

Racism is a system. A system invented for control, superiority, ego. Invented to make a group of humans feel “superior” to another human because of the “shade” of someone’s skin. Let’s be frank. If you feel you are better, deserve more, or are entitled to more because of the color of your skin, your mindset needs work.

I’ve had a lot of time to think about what I wish to devote my life to. The past year, I spent a lot of time shaping When Toys Age, and writing “The Revolution on Political Religion,” a political and social discourse—and I realized something. At the core of both messages is this:

The highest advancement of any government is measured by the value placed on each life.

Trust me, there’s no “them”

The Revolution on Political Religion

It’s a strange time for all of us. Today, we sit here witnessing an alarming rise of nationalism comparable to pre-WWII, a rise of radical leaders who preach nationalism above the value of life, and a generation who values freedom, justice, and equality more than ever. Today, our freedom is under attack globally by political religion.

Our entire generation is watching as both government and religion lose the merit they once held. A decade ago, we witnessed Bush, Rumsfeld, and Chenney conspire to deceive the entire world about WMD both nuclear and biological to invade, and occupy Iraq. What followed was a long period of terrorism that hit the world with fear and uncertainty. But amidst all of this, we’re seeing the rise of impact-driven projects and companies. Our voices are stronger, more connected than ever.

We have come to believe that we, the free, are endowed by our nation with the highest freedoms of man — life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And the truest among that, the freedom of thought, the freedom of religion, and the freedom of life. Convinced that the highest honor of a citizen is to serve, protect, and empower his country in any way possible, we have sacrificed our lives to the conspiracy of our leaders, our minds to the chauvinism of our leaders, and our freedom of religion in the name of nationalism.

Over the course of history, the relationship between church and state has found itself in a constant state of correction. We’ve hit an age where the line between politics and religion has again blurred, to the point where we’ve come to worship nationalism as a religion. Perhaps it’s time to revisit this relationship. Because after all, what is a free man, if enslaved by nationalism? 

Any religion, political or not, experienced in pure is wildly beautiful. But when misused to preach superiority, domination, control, it becomes polluted. And when religion becomes so intertwined with identity and emotional belonging, it often develops an immunity to critical reformation. Today, we struggle to understand what it means to love and honor our country. Today, we are in dire need of a course correction.

In the wise words of Albert Einstein, problems cannot be solved with the same level of thinking that created them. New times produce new problems, and new problems require new solutions. I’m not naive enough to think that nations will cease their race for power, and so instead, I’d like to offer a new approach—

For long, we’ve measured the advancement of a nation by its resources, technology, access to information, and wealth. It’s time to start measuring the advancement of our nations by the value placed on the life of each man, woman, and child.

I’m on a quest to understand how can we make it politically profitable for politicians to hold the value of life—the value of each man, woman, and child’s life as the highest measurement of any nation of peoples. Make no mistake, this is a global revolution. I may not see it in my lifetime, but I’m not ready to sit around and wait.

Will you join me in finding an answer?

The value of life through a political lens

A year ago, a dear friend and colleague of mine moved to India.

We occasionally get together to talk about business, about life, and about social and political issues. Then one day, she asked me a devastating question. She said, “How could governments give such little value to the lives of their people?”

My heart broke and I didn’t know how to respond.

I guess everything here is in effort to understand it.