The Subjectivity of Value

Hello to you, dear reader.  Today I draft this post not only as a practice in self-reflection, but also an exercise in humility.  There will be many words, so please stick with me until the end.

My cat almost died this week.  If you are Facebook friends with me, you are already aware.  My emotions can’t help but spill out on social media, where dribs and drabs make there way onto my feed.  If you don’t know me personally, here is Jason’s story.

I am no stranger to making difficult, life changing decisions with limited amounts of time and information.  It has mostly pertained to humans.  And (I hope) that we can all agree that human life is valuable.

Things start to get fuzzy (no pun intended) when it comes to pets.  Some people just are not animal people.  Animals may serve a specific purpose (farming, clothing, eating).  My own father was of this mentality.  He euthanized my hamster with his own hands.  Although kind, he was emotionally detached from animals.

And then there are the fur moms and dads of the world who love their pets as much as any other human.  My husband and I fall into this category.  I fell in love with my first poodle at the age of four and have never looked back.  We sleep with our animals, talk to them, and spoil them when finances permit.  We have one poodle, three cats, and a turtle.  They are are family. Ohana.

So this week when I was informed that our cat, Jason, would die without costly and necessary medical care, I was paralyzed. Mark and I simply don’t have the funds to afford Jason’s care, which is probably going to be around $10,000.  I considered everything: Jason’s prognosis and quality of life.  The possibility of going down this rabbit hole and not finding the rainbow at the end – healing.  Financial strain.  Sacrifice.

Friends, this is me at my most raw.  I only saw one option: we had to put him down.  There were too many unknowns.  It just wasn’t practical.  My husband felt very differently.  He voice was choking with emotion.  There was no way he was going to give up on Jason.  We consulted with family, friends, and our vet.  I couldn’t see a way through and Mark only saw one way.

We decided to commit to Jason.  We have decided to love and support Jason in every way we can at the moment.  Being in this situation has been humbling and also philosophically challenging.  I realize that many people think we are ridiculous.  It is the subjectivity of value.  What is important to me may not be important to you.  How do we coexist and support one another with this realization?

I can’t help but think of the lyrics from Free to Be…You and Me:

Every boy in this land grows to be his own man
In this land, every girl grows to be her own woman
Take my hand, come with me where the children are free
Come with me, take my hand, and we’ll run

And you and me are free to be

In a time of divisiveness and harsh judgments, it is easy to forget that we all have the freedom to choose what is valuable.  And to take it a step further…maybe kindness is supporting this freedom.  Reserving the judgment.  Giving your friends or family members the room to love and live life in ways that are good for them.

Now for the exercise in humility:

Mark and I are proud people.  We prefer not to ask for anything.  If you are able, please take a few moments to read Jason’s story and if you can, please consider sharing or donating.  And we completely understand if you are unwilling or unable – that is the power of freedom.

Thank you and I hope to be a more consistent blogger soon.

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