A question I constantly struggle with is what gives someone’s life value, and how I can find it for myself.

Does a person’s life have value if the person simply exists selfishly, looking out for their own needs and desire? I’d say no since that life adds no value to the world, since it doesn’t increase happiness or decrease suffering for others.

But devoting one’s life to helping others doesn’t fully solve it for me. It’s nearly impossible to tell when the value one gives the world balances with what one takes to stay alive. Would one need to save one life to justify our own? Would one need to save one high-value life or several lower-value lives? Or give small bits of value and inspiration to lots of different people?

Two panels from the 'Bungou Stray Dogs' manga with one character asking if saving others will truly make them worthy to live.

If one brings new life into this world with kids, does it only count if that life also brings value to the world? If someone produces a life that only takes and never gives, does that make one even less worthy of life?

Even doing all that, does helping others simply to help oneself count? They’re using others as excuses or rationalizations to keep living. It’s just become another selfish activity.

It’s a question with no answer that keeps asking for one. I’m again left asking myself, how can we define the value of a life?