Steve vs Statistics – Are All Men Really Equal?

One Dies Millions Cry, Millions Die No One Cries

One Man or One Million? Tragedy vs Statistic?

I came across this a couple of times in several sites. It appears that Steve Job’s death has attracted huge amounts of attention, to the extent that some used his name and his importance to compare public reactions to different kinds of people. The interesting thing about this picture is that it is essentially stating that a person that has done many great things for many people, and therefore many people respect him. On the other hand, millions of people living in poverty and living in the slums will not receive as much of a strong public response. Which brings me to ask: “Are all men really equal?”. Does an individual’s contributions to the society and to others during his lifetime affect the public’s response to his death?

Personally, I would say that yes, the “value of people” will always be different, depending on the level of contribution and change brought by the individual to the world. In the case of people like Steve Jobs, who revolutionised many electronic sectors, he is viewed as a hero that will be remembered. In contrast to that is the public’s indifference to the numbers of poor people that die everyday. I don’t blame them for not feeling anything towards these millions of people because if we look at the productivity of both sides, we find that the millions of people are just a burden of extra mouhts to feed, especially if they are not productive. (In other words, support and resources should be directed to those that are willing and are able to be productive at work. In addition to that, whilst the death of an important man will seem like a tragedy, the 1 million people is just a statistics, so the emotional impact on people will not be as great.

This does not have anything to do with the Brain in a VAT thing we are doing in class, but I decided to share this to find out what people think about these topics. Are all men really equal?. Does an individual’s contributions to the society and to others during his lifetime affect the public’s response to his death?Also, what make the guy tweet: The society we live in is really messed up?

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15 comments to Steve vs Statistics – Are All Men Really Equal?

  • Jordan

    I think that everyone in the world is equal. Charles, both of our lives are not more special than a child who lives in a poverty stricken area. I believe that everyone is the world is equal, however, i do acknowledge the fact that not everyone in the world is treated equally. I agree that Steve Jobs revolutionized our lives with his innovative inventions of the i-products, but this does not mean that his life is any more important than another person’s life. The value of a person’s life is not measured by how smart/stupid they are, how rich/poor they are or how much they have contributed to our society. Life is not just all about getting a fantastic job with amazing pay and living a dream life. I think that your point that implies that people who are not productive should not remain in our society is wrong and that they are just a “few extra mouths to feed”. Do you think that it is there choice to be born in a poverty area? What if you were born in a poverty stricken area and your whole family are not “productive”? Does that mean you don’t deserve to live? And that your family is just a few extra mouths to feed, a burden to our society?

    I think that everyone in the world is equal and the poster/picture you have found is actually incorrect in my opinion. I know that Steve Jobs death caused many people in the world to cry, but 1 million people dying in slums and poverty stricken places and no one cares? The Red Cross, Unicef, Feed the children international are created just so to show that there are people who care. Contrary to popular belief, good things are being done everyday and obviously not by us. The picture you found is a classic example of a common misconception and i find it shocking that it is being posted on “several sites”

  • August

    Jordan, I would definitely agree with some of the notions that you propose: for example, that, if we look logically, all people are equal. But, the world is hardly a logical place; or perhaps I should say that our idea of logic is faulty.

    The picture that Charles posted is a prime example of this ‘illogical’-in human terms-world that we live in. When Jobs died, millions cried for him; but when all those impoverished children in Africa die, not nearly as many people grieve. Sure, there are plenty of organizations that care about the children, but none of them feel heavy emotional pain for them. But, the comparison aside, this could perhaps be because of another reason: Steve Jobs was very famous, and was ‘omnipresent,’ if you may, in many of our lives; therefore, our relationship with them may be much more personal than our detached awareness of the starving African children. This might cause us to feel less over the deaths of those children than we might feel over the death of Steve Jobs.

    Also, while reading your comment, a very interesting question was raised: are all humans really worth the same value? I believe that we aren’t; logically and ideally, we would be, but since this world is hardly logical, our values would be indeed quite different in some cases. I leave you all to think about that. ^_^

  • David

    I think there is some failings of logic within the idea of the poster itself. The types of mourning are different, when “million cry” for Steve, they’re sad that a man that made technological advancements, supported Pixar etc. But when people cry for the millions, they’re sympathising, and perhaps since third world debt grows and the agencies never spread success stories, people are losing faith (and it probably isn’t that bad as these adverts would have people think; mortality and poverty rates are falling worldwide generally). One is of awe, one is of pity.

    As for people being worth the same, I think everyone is. When Bin Laden died, people started to celebrate death. Contributions matter of course. The president dying would matter more than the janitor down in the apartment block dying.

    Meanwhile this is out of hand in many a place. When Amy Winehouse died, there were also the killings in Norway. Channel 4 news announced “The main news is that Amy Winehouse is dead”. I could have screamed at that screen.. (before someone thinks this is hypocritical, I shall say that no one said “People are starving in Africa – but Steve Jobs is dead; that’s the main news.”)

  • Albert

    I totally agree with david. Notion of regarding all human as “same” is just way too ideal as most of the value to be what is individual is derived from your contribution to society. It is sure a tragedy that millions of people are dying in africa but no one cares about it. However, as David stated death of a person who brought one of the greatest innovation to the world and is different from a death of a normal person. I believe idea of criticising those people who do not feel pity for millions of poor people but Steve jobs is more based on ethic sense,, more like human kinda emotion. Unfortunately, world is not that delightful place to be such. Extreme example, who says murder is a bad thing? Law. No one on earth previously determined what is to be what, its just us human that is fencing us inside. Nothing can be valued in its appearance, its more of what it actually means. Im feeling kinda mean, but I do think finding all humans value as same is just absurd crap that society fencing us. I would say only reference you can make about it is in physical means of human, yes we are all humans, but value of our life? No. I do agree with jordan’s reference about African people had no chance to choose to be borned like that. But still thats how the world is. Do you honestly care if someone in africa died? really? If you are to support those people, can you dare throwing all of your assets for them and be pleasant living “same” with them? All that matters is what one’s done to society, we cry for Steve Jobs because he meant a lot of thing to human innovation. Simply put, the basic of this idea is that everyman is indifferent to other men in society.

  • Charles Goh

    Albert raised an excellent point about the law defining what is “wrong and right”. I would also like to point out that though it is not one’s choice of living in an area with high poverty, as long as you are willing to work for it, you can get out of it. Jordan, it’s not where you start, it’s where you want to end. To look at some examples of rags to riches, look at this site:

  • John

    Contrary to the opinions of you heartless people, I don’t think that one life is worth more than another. I agree with how Jordan said that all people are equal, but I think what he meant is that all life is equal. On the other hand it seems that Albert and Charles are trying to put forward the point that all people “are not the same”. I think these are two slightly different things. I think it is possible to believe that all life is equally precious while all people are different. This is precisely the reason why I think that the millions of “insignificant” deaths of starving children in Africa are just as tragic as that of Steve Jobs. Sure, they may not have had as significant an impact on society as a whole, but each person is unique and has value to their communities. I’m sure that the contributions of one individual to a village in Africa could be, relatively equal to or greater than the contributions of Steve Jobs.

  • Charles Goh

    I think the main reason why people mourn over the death of Steve Jobs more so than over the deaths of millions of the poor is this: The death of people like Steve Jobs is somewhat of an occasion, it does not happen everyday. On the other hand, news about the people dying because of famine all over the world are widespread, and come out everyday. As a consequence, we have been so accustomed to hearing about such news that we subconciously ignore the severity of the issues in the world.

    So in a way, this is not really about Steve Jobs being more valuable than them, its more about the way the average human inteprets repetitive news as compared to unique ones.

    This is a highly controversial and sensitive topic. I see where you are coming from, as I had to represent those views in the Human Rights Comittee in Vietnam. We do live in the word where, morally, equality is the right of every lifeform.

    However, due to my view that anyone from any background can be successful, and it is only fair that the productive have rightful access over the limited resources of Earth, I must hold a different opinion.

    Thanks for all your input though 🙂 Cheers (:

  • August

    As a last word/summary on what we discussed this topic, I think that what John said about the “two slightly different things” sums everything up very well; we are all trying to express two main points: that ‘lives’ can be said to be fundamentally equal, on the lowest (but nowhere near the least important) levels, but that our society, with all its complexities, does not treat these ‘lives’ with the equality that they, by nature, deserve. I think Charles is also trying to suggest the same concept, only from the viewpoint of the society, while Albert and David are speaking from the viewpoint of nature. But, overall, we are speaking of the same thing, which John sums up quite well.

  • Jennifer

    whoa, so this is the post that everyone was talking about…
    I agree with the opinion that all men are equal. I originally didn’t understand why is there gap in living conditions and why some people has to be born and live arduous life without any reason.
    Now this viewpoint of mine might be slightly Buddhism-based, but I think that there’s an afterlife and people are born in a condition which reflects what they’ve done in the past. So, sometimes misfortune can strike those who haven’t done anything wrong and people can be born in abysmal condition and die without seeing any improvement-but this can be due to misdeeds that those people have done in their past. I mean,you can’t say it is purely ‘luck’ that some people are born in rich family and live lavish life; of course other’s opinion might be different, but for me the ‘afterlife theory’ is what best explains the difference in people’s living condition and makes the unfair situation in this world more logical.

  • August

    Ah, now that’s interesting. Jennifer brings up something we didn’t consider during all the comments before: Religion. What we’ve said before concurs with a much more atheist, naturalist view. Adding religion to the debate can really change some things. But still, in terms of the original post, it still falls down to the overall point: all lives SHOULD be equal, but they aren’t, whether it be because of karma or because of the illogical nature of society. In the end, the point is still the same.

  • Charles Goh

    LOL, maybe karma, but the society isn’t illogical. It is just another small part of natural selection. As we cannot be certain about the whole concept of afterlife, we should wait till we all die first then return to this post and reply 🙂 hehe.

  • Jennifer

    In Buddhist concept, we say every soul passes a ‘bridge of oblivion’ which makes you forget about everything. And some exceptions who crossed that bridge without being affected by ‘oblivion’ remembers their past.Let’s wish that one of us can be those ‘exception’, come back again and reply later XP haha

  • Charles Goh

    Lets come back to this topic on the value of a life. Though one may say that everyone is equal, in reality they are not. Perhaps we should use a more start example. Ask your parents about how much the insurance companies will pay your family if something happens to your parents. This amount, guys, is how much you and your family are worth in the economic sense.

    Perhaps a little too shocking? How about this. Ever seen people who walk aimlessly on the road, not caring if some car hits them or not? Obviously the value of their life is much lower than that of the ordinary person; if the person can’t value his own life, how can we?

    So, ever want to know how much you are worth? When you work, the amount of money that will be given to your family if something happens to you is the total amount of money you are worth. In the case of Steve Jobs and the million people. The insurance given to the millions of people in Africa is next to nothing, while Steve Jobs, if the insurance company had to pay for him, would go bankrupt.

    Perhaps a little too ‘heartless’. I do apologize, but I prefer to take the non emotional/sympathizing interpretations.

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