The Value of People

As much as we’re loathe to admit it, there’s really only one thing that makes the world go ’round, at least in our present day and age. You could try to conjure up substitutions, claiming that things such as love, happiness, or joy are suitable to help propel us across day to day actions, but ultimately, its the greenback that reigns above all. From the moment you step foot into this world, there’s a value attached to your being, such as the medical costs related to your delivery in a hospital, the amount of money experts have so painstakingly agreed upon to raise a child from infancy to adulthood (which, according to a perfunctory wikipedia search is $389,670 for the year 2013, adjusting for inflation). College, higher education, and grad school can easily tack on another 6 digit figure to that expense. And as an adult, your quantifiable value is based on your net worth, a value based upon your assets such as your car, house, and financial investments/savings, just to name a few. When you finally reach your senior years, whether or not you’re in a fit mental state, it’s going to cost $x to provide for your retirement or to put you up in a retirement/nursing home or to hire a caretaker and the like. Even to our death, a monetary cost is associated with the end of life, seeing as there’re bills to be paid for your funeral and burial, and on top of that, there’s an estate tax that the government wants to nip out of your dead body before you can pass anything of value onto those you’d like to bequeath things to. Yes, there are those that can get by without needing an inordinate amount of wealth to live a happy life, and I don’t doubt them in any way and tip my hat to them, but money definitely helps make things easier.

On the flip side of things, aside from seeing the mere dollar signs associated with living, there’s also the chronological aspects that are relevant to daily living. A report says that LA drivers wasted about 61 hours in 2011 stuck in the torrid LA commute. A study in 2007 estimates that, by the time a person reaches 65 years of living, they’ll have spent 9 years of their life glued in front of the television. And at a generous average of 8 hours of sleep per night, that’s 33% of your life that you spend in bed doing absolutely nothing (a necessary evil, as sleep deprivation is a terrible thing, but that’s a discussion for another time). As the old adage goes, “time is money,” and this cannot be anymore true when it comes to talking about our lives and the top two aspects that affect the quality of lifestyle of which we have.

Because of this inherent value placed on human life (both in terms of money and time) (and also not so inherent as both money and time weren’t the main drivers of daily living until a couple hundred years ago), there exists the idea that each and every human life is important. Through my experiences in the past couple of years, I’ve been able to live this out in both ends of the spectrum, running the gamut from youth in their teenage years to senior citizens who’ve a diminished ability to be independent in living. In investing my time with high schoolers twice a week at church, and seeing the positive impact it has on them both individually and as a collective, I can definitely see the difference I’ve been able to make (and how quickly such efforts can be destabilized in my absence). Reaching even further back in my life, I can see how much money my parents have spent on both my sister and I to send us to afterschool/Chinese school/SAT prep and how valuable my time was in that period of living and how beneficial it was to my parents as well. As for the geriatric population, there are various groups and organizations dedicated to the well-being of senior citizens and ensuring that they aren’t neglected in whatever circumstance they may be put up in. Millions of dollars are allocated in order to ensure that they can receive the help that they need, regardless of the situation they may be in. As such, there is an entire workforce of people, skilled in various capacities, that seeks to complete this task. My volunteering in a hospital within the inpatient setting, at a nursing home, and experience with at an Adult Day Health Care (ADHC) location has allowed me to see the extensive operations that are at work to serve the older population. And while I’m sure that adults between the ages of 18-65 years of age require taking care of as well, my experience only extends to these two specific settings.

And what has my experience over the past few years shown me? That aside from the altruistic nature of wanting to help people, regardless of whatever age or capacity they may be in, there’s always money in the banana stand helping/investing in others. Because as nice as it is (and most likely “politically correct” to say so) to help others in spite of the financial compensation, the main thing that people strive for to help pay the bills, put food on the table, and put clothes on our back is money, with the hope that the numbers eventually work themselves out to be positive in our favor. If all goes well, I should be picking up a new position in the following week or so as an administrative assistant in a rehab setting , something that grants me additional exposure and hopefully solid references in preparation to set me up for applying to programs (ideally this coming application cycle). While my current trajectory sets me on course to work with adults and aid them in recovering to their previous baseline levels of activity, I believe that I’d also like to work with youth in some form down the road. Whether or not the two are mutually exclusive remains to be seen, as well as whether or not I can make a living off it. Even though my hobby and interest lies in technology and seeing what new features await in subsequent iterations, I think the investment in people (monetary reasons aside) is a more fulfilling reward, especially as the results of such investments can be seen in strengthened personal relationships between individuals and the collective as a whole.

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