Friday, May 8, 2020

On the Intrinsic Value of Human Life

Today I need to speak up about something that is profoundly upsetting me.
During the Covid-19 crisis it seems like human life
has become increasingly cheap in the United States. 

I have actually been told to my face that it's okay
if a bunch of old people are killed by the virus
because it's just cleaning out the dead wood.
And, it's okay if old or sick people die
because we're getting rid of burdens on society. 


Every human life has value, no matter how old an individual is,
how sick, how disabled. 
Every human being has the inherent right to be treated with dignity and with compassion. 
No individual is more valuable than another.

Sheltered by Love from My Beginning
My Mother and Father with Me
Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Canada
March 1950
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

I believe that the vast majority of people around the world value human life.
I think the people who are cheapening human life are the tiny minority,
but they are grabbing the headlines.
I am afraid that if we don't stand up for the intrinsic value of every human life,
we will slide into an acceptance of getting rid of
the "dead wood" and "burdens" on society.

Loving Care
My Mother with Me
Stanhope Beach, Prince Edward Island, Canada
Summer 1951
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Loving Fun
My Mother with Me
Smith's Cove, Nova Scotia, Canada
Summer 1952
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Loving Celebrations
My Mother with Me at My 6th Birthday Celebration ~
Delayed by the Birth of my sister Barb
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada
Spring 1956
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Abraham Lincoln, a great American president said, 
"All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing."
This is a time for us to stand up for the value every human life.

I am posting some treasured pictures of my mother,
the most amazing human being I have ever known.
When she died, when I saw her take her last breath,
I begged God to let her breathe even one more time,
because I couldn't bear to lose this magnificent human being,
this person I loved with everything in me.

Sara Margaret MacDonald MacBeath
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

She might have callously been viewed
by some stranger as "dead wood" or "a burden," 
but to me and the people who loved her, she was irreplaceable.

Almost twenty years later there is a hole in my heart
because I love and miss my mother so much. 

I  posted these words on Facebook this morning,
after a discussion about this topic with my sister Donnie last night.
As we talked I realized that it was shameful for me to stay silent.
I woke up knowing I had to speak out, say something.

My Parents Dating
(My Dad is Wearing a Bowtie)
Acadia University, Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Canada 
Circa 1946
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Their Wedding Day
Smith's Cove, Nova Scotia, Canada 
September 4, 1948
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Their Honeymoon
Sandy Cove, Nova Scotia, Canada 
September 5 or 6, 1948
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

A friend of mine told me in a comment
about the despicable treatment of an elderly neighbor,
a neighbor she described as "the most amazing lady,
someone she absolutely loves.

This lady is in her mid-eighties.
She went out for a walk yesterday and encountered two people
who were walking while holding hands and blocking the entire sidewalk.
She asked them to give her a little space, and they responded,
"Why don't you just stay home, old woman."
She answered sadly that she hoped they wouldn't get the virus.

It's heartbreaking to know that some people
feel empowered to treat others in such a callous way.
They do not understand the phrase,
"There but for the grace of God, go I." 

Perhaps they haven't lived long enough to understand
how fragile life is and how it can change in a heartbeat.
They can't imagine, in their youth and healthiness,
that they might suffer a devastating illness or accident
that leads to their incapacitation or their dependence on others.
They can't imagine that someday, if they are fortunate,
they will live to be as old.

We cannot treat others like this.
We need to support civility;
but even more importantly,
we need to stand up for the value of every single human life. 

It is my deepest hope that we learn from this surreal and difficult time,
that we recognize the importance of every human being,
that we build a better and more equal world.
We cannot sit back and be silent. 

Throughout this post I have shared pictures of my mother.
I encourage everyone to share stories and photos
of the irreplaceable people in their lives.
Let's counteract callousness and hate with love.

Love Given and Returned
My Mother with My Brother Toward the End of Her Life
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Possibly the Fall of 2001
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Our Last Photo Together
A Few Days Before My Mother Died
The value of her life is written on the faces of her children,
even in the body of her beloved  Daxie.
Bertie (left), Roy, Me (Louise), Barb, Donnie
May 2002
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Till next time ~
Fundy Blue

Donnie and I
Point Prim
On the Bay of Fundy
Summer 2018
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved



  1. I have tears as I read your words today . I have seen that same idea written, as though they who are old should almost be willing to die. Well, I am old, and not willing at all to leave yet.But a dear friend, we have now been friends for over 66 years ( and how that dates us), talked about the virus, and at our age are so thankful that neither her nor my parents are here, and we would be living far away and not able to be with them. BUT, again, I miss them both so much, and both my Mum and Dad had remarkable patience, loyalty, strong values and were each so talented in their own area, my Dad with farming, words, writing, and my Mum, also with words writing and sewing/dressmaking.Love your photos, stay safe up North.XXXX

    1. Thank you for your powerful and beautiful comment, Jean. I haven't spoken to anyone yet who is willing to leave, regardless of his or her age. Life is precious, and we want to make the most of every day that is given us. I know how much you love and value your parents. You have shared a lot about them over the years. They were good, loving, determined people who gave you the best they could, and I am not talking about material things. They shaped the wonderful, loving, compassionate person you are. I want you and Hugh around for a long time, my friend. You have filled my heart so much, and you give a great deal to the people in your life. I'm glad that my parents aren't here to see what is happening in this pandemic, and I am grateful to know that they are at peace in a better place.

      I was thinking of you tonight and your Friday afternoon driveway get-to-gathers in your neighborhood. We met our friends Cheri and Gary for the first time in over two months. We couldn't go to Parkway for our usual Friday night dinner and drinks, like we did so often in the past. We ordered takeout, and Courtney (a lovely, longtime waitress) ran out in her mask and gloves and put our order in the back of my Forester. Then Cheri and Gary in their car, and Terry and I in ours drove over to Red-Tailed Hawk Park and had our dinners on benches a good six feet apart. We couldn't hug like always but we had a wonderful time. It was windy and cold ~ LOL. We were shivering, but we'll be back again next week!

      You and Hugh stay safe too! Sending you love and hugs!

  2. Hey Fundy Blue! Your post is a little like mine, isn't it? I'm absolutely appalled at what I see happening in the US. But my US friends say that the minority is very vocal. But those deaths! I'm beyond speechless.

    Thanks for the trip down your memory lane. Gorgeous pics. You stay safe, won't you?

    1. Hi, Denise! Actually it was your post, a couple of other IWSG ones, and their comments that prompted the discussion with my sister Donnie. So thank you! And please stay and happy!

  3. Life is precious whatever age you may be. I am one of "The Old" and it is upsetting when people say about the virus killing off the old folk.

    I enjoyed your pictures Louise a pure joy to see.
    Take care.

    1. I'm glad that you enjoyed the pictures, Yvonne! There is a lot that is upsetting now, but we'll get through it! Hugs to you my, friend!

  4. This seems to be another instance where some people in our country are becoming more and more deranged in their thinking. I can't imagine people being this hateful and uncaring, but yet it is really happening.

    I enjoyed seeing your photographs.

    1. Hi, Susie! It's nice to see you again! I'm glad that you enjoyed the photos. My photos are among my most valuable things. I never thought I would hear such hateful things. It is very sad, but I can only hope we all come together again. Take care! I hope all is well with you, your family and loved ones!

  5. Dear Louise, It's after 3 a. m. here and I'm having trouble sleeping --which made me cranky. So I poured a glass of Pinot Noir and fired up the pooter. I read this post and am no longer cranky. I am deeply moved. It's one of the finest examples of the art of the personal essay I have ever seen.

    1. Your words mean so much to me, Geo! They filled my heart. I'm glad I could help dispel your crankiness. I distinctly remember sitting in my Grade Eleven Literature class just after we had finished reading some essays written by G.K. Chesterton. Our teacher Mrs. Bates assigned us essays to write. While a lot of my classmates groaned (There were only 11 of us), I was excited. Writing essays, especially personal essays, has remained a favorite format ever since. I'm just finishing up a glass of cabernet sauvignon, and when I finish answering comments, I'll be off to be, hopefully to sleep. Here's hoping you sleep through the night, my friend. 🥂

  6. "bunch of old people are killed by the virus
    because it's just cleaning out the dead wood."


    Who said this to you?? I can not even imagine!!! Or those people who met your friend's neighbor on the street?? Who would say that...... gasp.... I am screaming inside.

    Yesterday I went to Walmart. They had the entrance set up like a maze. There were two masked employees pointing people along. Surreal, but hey that's that. When I was checking out at the register the man ahead of me was waiting for his wife. She had the money, I think. Maybe she went back out to the car to get it or something. Anyway, the cashier, the guy, and I (standing six feet back) were all looking around pretending like it wasn't taking forever. Ha ha. Anyway, she finally arrived and announced, "Sorry it took so long. That *insult* wouldn't let me in the door! Really? Really, people? A little courtesy is all it takes.

    1. Hi, Sandi! It was an employee in a business that I have frequented for many years. I was shocked, and I won't be returning. Definitely, we need a little courtesy right now. Everyone needs to chill and be less hyper-reactive. I'm trying to lay low and avoid all the crazies. On a lighter, happier side we met really close friends of ours in the park late Friday afternoon and had a takeout meal ~ They on one bench and us on another, each with our own order and appropriately distanced. We had a lot of fun, even if we couldn't hug as usual. I hope that all is well with you, Sandi! Sending you a big hug!

    2. That's a good idea to picnic near your friends. Ha ha! But not TOO near.

      "I'm trying to lay low and avoid all the crazies."

      This is the story of my life! 😂

  7. The next time someone says such ignorant comments about old people to you, ask them to specifically name two older people in their own lives/families who they are willing to sacrifice to the virus's death toll. That may bring it a bit closer to home for them.

    1. A great idea, Debra! I wish I had thought of that those two times. I was flabbergasted, but now I'm much more prepared. Have an awesome Sunday, my friend! Hugs to you!

    2. I absolutely love your idea, Debra! I'll have to remember that.

  8. Yeah, there are only a few of them in the grand scheme of things, but they make it hard for everyone else. All the nuts who go on about it being a conspiracy to take away their rights and blah blah blah. All they are being asked to do it stay inside in a nice cushy house, with electricity and running water, in many cases. They'd never survive a third world country on a good day. Heck, even up north they'd probably croak. I don't want anyone to get it and croak, but at times having such people get it to wipe out the stupid does cross my mind lol but sometimes they just need to be wised up, either through telling or living. Can take a while for naivety to leave them. And people are just looking for an excuse to validate what they want to do. "Only the old get it. Oh, I'm not old, so that means I can go out and do what I want. Screw the old." Pfffft.

    Debra has a good point indeed. Make it hit close to home.

    1. Well said, Pat! We have it so much easier than a lot of people around the world. I don't want to wish the virus on anyone, but in moments of frustration, I have spewed invective and curses at the tv. Perhaps I should just turn off the tv ~ LOL I hope everything is going okay for you! Take care, my friend!

    2. LOL but the TV is your right. Don't go turning it off or you may have picketers at your door. And the picketers over the picketers.

  9. Just had news this morning of a friend in Scotland. She had a friend who had died of the virus in England, the woman was in her 80's. I also have a friend here in Georgia who had a friend in his 40's who had died of the virus. I don't care what anyone says, ANYONE can get it. Now, I also have heard similar things at my job, the callous way that older people are treated about this. I am glad you posted this, perhaps this might wake people up? Just read Debra's comment above, and that is a very good idea indeed.
    My Dad died of the flu in 2019, so I had very complicated feelings about this virus when it all started here in the USA. I had already experienced the masks, the gloves, the uncertainty...I pray for all who have loved ones with this virus and cannot see them, that must be most heartbreaking indeed. At least with our Dad, we were able to hold his hand (even if we had gloves on) and to sing to him.

    1. It's devastating to lose a parent, isn't it Kay? My dad unexpectedly died alone, and that is difficult to remember. I think of all the people who have loved ones who died, especially alone, and it's is painful to contemplate. Even young children are dying or very seriously ill. I appreciated Debra's suggestion. I'll be ready. All the best to you, Richard, and Chris! Take care!

  10. Louise, I am almost lost for words after reading your beautiful post. All of what you have written reflects to me your beautiful personality, and that is what is important. Do not worry about what nasty things some say, as I can see that your interaction with people, whether on the blog or in your everyday life, will contribute only 'love' to everyone you interact with, and may encourage many of these people with those kind of thoughts to change. My father died when I was eleven years old, he was fifty six when I was born (I was the last of the clan). He was the most wonderful father I could have had. He spoke seven languages, worked for the war department on the docks near where we lived. They used him for interpreting foreign visitors. When I used to come down into the living room after getting ready to go to school, I would find that many mornings he would be making breakfasts to what was then called a tramp. These homeless people heard of my father's kindness and would sometimes knock on the door. My mother accepted it as quite normal, and so did we. I have worked in care work with the elderly, both in a care home and outside with elderly people, and it was the job I enjoyed most of all.

  11. Forgot to add Louise, your family pictures are beautiful, and I was reminded of my Jewish grandfather who bought some terraced housed in Lancashire many years ago and used to let homeless people live in them for free until they were able to get a job. It was only then that they paid him rent, which was very low.

    1. Hi, Brenda! Thank you so much for your kind comment and for sharing the stories of your father and grandfather. I'm so sad that your father died so young. My father died at 58, and that is far too young. This post was mostly about my mother, but I loved my father dearly as well. At least I was older when my father died. My Grandmother MacDonald was very poor, but she often fed "tramps" or "hobos" during the depression and after. I'm glad that you enjoyed my family photos. They are very special to me. All the best to you! Please take care, my friend!

  12. Replies
    1. Thanks, Adam! You and Daisy do likewise, my friend!

  13. Oh, Louise, I know I've commented on Facebook but this really pains my heart. How awful that people feel these things never mind say them out loud. Please stay safe and be well!

    1. Hi, Martha! Thank you ~ Terry and I are doing our best to do so. I first posted this on Facebook, but then I decided to put it up here too. All the best to you and George! Take care!

  14. Just to add, Louise,
    I believe that your beautiful mother, and your other lovely ancestors, could be in the same amazing place I was taken to when I had a NDE when I was twenty eight years old. I have never seen the beauty or felt the love that I experienced in that lovely place.

    1. Thank you, Brenda! Thank you for reshaping your NDE. That is a great hope of mine, that my loved ones will be together again in heaven. My mother nearly died when I was a little girl. She was in a coma. She knew she was dying, but Jesus met her and told her that she couldn't leave, she had to return because her children needed her. She turned back for us, even though she wanted to go with Jesus to that beautiful, loving place. Love and hugs to you, my friend!

  15. one of the most special ,beautiful and poignant post dear Louise !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

    i am lost in moments that you shared with us ,filled with most precious version of love "a mother's love" enriched with most beautiful kind of care as it is saying that God caanot be everywhere so he created mom to Care" mothers who give us care and love that our creatr want to give us
    the last hug of your wonderful mother with his son is worth framing and hanging on each wall of each house in this world OVERWHELMING !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    i share your rage and i support your words with all my heart my friend
    life is not about body we fabricate to live but a heart a soul within and it never gets old no matter how many centuries passed by
    i know that only family members can acknowledge this preciousness and only those who don't just look like human but they really actually are
    stay blessed and well Louise!


Thank you for your comments! I appreciate the time and energy you put into making them very much.