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The value of life across 900 years of time and space

| Monday, April 27, 2015

Whenever finals come rolling around, there are several things I tend to keep in mind. I try to remember that, despite how awful final exams are, I’ll soon be back home, lying on the beach in my beloved Puerto Rico. I’ll remind myself that I should probably get my laundry done by reading days. And somewhere at the back of my mind, I remember the following phrase from the British television series “Doctor Who”: “Nine hundred years of time and space, and I’ve never met someone who wasn’t important.”

It’s probably one of the most beautiful phrases of the beloved sci-fi show because it reflects an oft-repeated theme within the series: the monumental importance of individual people. Throughout the show’s run, the Doctor recruits companions for his adventures, normal people who, when given the adventure, prove themselves capable of incredible acts of heroism. They are secretaries, shop girls, med students, nurses and models who ride space whales, inspire Vincent Van Gogh and save entire civilizations. They are people plucked from a mundane existence who gradually reveal their extraordinary capacity for compassion, self-sacrifice and bravery.

It’s a quote that stems from a genuine belief that each individual person is integral to the fabric of time and space, whether they are presidents or prisoners, celebrities or sinners. It’s a quote that reiterates how much people matter, as they provide something intangible and unique to the human experience. People are important, not because of their social or historical contributions, but because of their inherent value.

I like to remember this quote around finals week because, quite honestly, I’m pretty sure plenty of students (including myself) forget this message once the avalanche of exams and term papers hits. Heck, sometimes, we forget this the entire year. We forget that we are important. That people matter more than grades and possess an innate uniqueness and value that can neither be given nor taken away by anything as flimsy as a test average. Often, there’s an unhealthy tendency to sacrifice health and happiness for a couple of extra percentage points because at the moment, what matters is a test, a score, a scribbled number at the top of a page. It is honestly very, very hard to remember at this time of year.

For a brief moment, I’ll forget I matter. I’ll do the unhealthy things students traditionally do around finals week like stack up on caffeine, go without sleep and cry over my inability to produce a decent essay. But I’ll remember. I’ll will eventually stop typing, turn off my room light and remember that I am far more important than a final paper.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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