Day 478: What Sets us Apart and What Brings us Together

(CNN) -- A South Carolina sheriff is refusing to lower the American flag in tribute to Nelson Mandela, saying the honor should be reserved for American citizens.
President Obama ordered flags lowered to half-staff for the international icon until sunset Monday.
But Pickens County Sheriff Rick Clark says not in his department.
"It's just my simple opinion that the flag should only be lowered to half-staff for Americans who sacrificed for their country," Clark told CNN affiliate WHNS. 

It should be lowered at the U.S. Embassy in South Africa, he said, but not at home.
The flag in his department was lowered over the weekend to honor a fallen law enforcement officer and for Pearl Harbor Day. But it will go right up Sunday morning, he said.
"I have no problem lowering it in South Africa in their country but not for our country. It should be the people who have sacrificed for our country."

What makes one life more, or less than any other life? What makes one life any more, or less, worthy than any other life? What gives any one life more, or less, value than another? Why should the end of one life be felt more, or less, keenly than another? Why should the suffering of one life be regarded as more, or less, important than another?

What makes us so different that we have such varying degrees of the value we give to beings? Why is one child loved any more or less than another? Why does one child deserve to receive an education while another does not? Why does one child deserve to be nourished while another does not? Why does one child deserve a home while another does not? Who determines who deserves what? How far do our words and actions determine what we believe other people deserve, or are entitled to?

How does one's nationality, culture, citizenship, status, economic status, traditions, beliefs, opinions, attitudes, health status, skin colour, sexual orientation, or level of qualification relate to one's intrinsic value as a living being? How far do labels such as these hold sway over the very definition and determining of the value of a life?

If we were created in the image and likeness of our Creator, was the Creator a collection of conflicting parts making up one dysfunctional whole?

Is the simple status of one person being of high value enough to give that person the authority to determine the value of other beings?

How much is one life worth? How can a life be priceless when money determines our value?

Finally, are our beliefs of what the value of any one life is enough to justify the subsequent manner of treatment of that particular life form?

How far does the validity of our opinions and beliefs take us in a world like this one? How far does the concept of respecting someone's opinions go when they have no respect for life? Does someone like that deserve any respect in return?