John Steward of Jesus
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The source of individual value

May 29, 1980

It is only by finding a standard outside himself that the individual man has a basis for freedom, Furthermore, it is only from this standard outside himself that he has a basis for the value of his own existence.

If a man’s only standard for value is, within his own life, then his life ceases to have any value or meaning at the time of his death, by definition. But if his life has value because of his contribution to those outside himself, whether men or gods, then there are actions which will give his life value even if they result in his death. A man will then have something worth dying for. Only with values worth dying for is a man’s life worth living.

 The preservation of body at the cost of the death of one’s soul is a bad bargain. That is not to say that one must always be uncompromising. There are degrees of damage to body and soul, each to be weighed. But the abandon or sale of soul for the life of the body leaves one an empty shell. For, the body will finally die. If the soul has been sold, the man has been a failure. Knowledge of this failure is worse than death. Anticipating death with a soul remaining gives at least a few remaining moments of life with value.