There has been a tendency to insert extra words around the phrase "black lives matter", such as "only black lives matter" or "black lives matter more". A better alternative for an invisible but implied additional word, perhaps, is "too" - in other words black lives are just as important as other lives.

Throughout history groups and races have been valued lower than others. You could quite easily imagine the hastag #Jewishlivesmatter gaining popularity during the Holocaust had the technology and cultural phenomenons of Facebook and Twitter been around. Perhaps then too there would be a backlash reaction of people exclaiming and proclaiming "all lives matter!".

It is not about putting lives on a set of importance scales. It is about tackling racial injustice, biased perception of threats and the use of excessive force by police. It is about recognising that societal ills do still exist and that we must do our utmost to overcome them.

I do not wish to go into minute detail on this. There are many eloquent writers examining the topic. Instead I wanted to encourage you to do some inner reflection. I propose a different hashtag for your consideration: #yourlifematters.

Throughout secondary school and even more so during my first year of university I had a skewed perception that my life did not matter and that my existence was unimportant. I convinced myself that not a single person would notice if I disappeared. I even tested this theory by physically disappearing from social events and seeing how long it would take for anyone to notice I had gone. Once I stood by a powerfully gushing stream contemplating jumping in and imagining how long it would take before anyone noticed I was missing.

In the passage of time and through experiences I have come to realise that my life makes a huge difference in this world.

There is a concept called the butterfly effect. Meteorologist Edward Lorenz suggested that the flap of a butterfly’s wings might ultimately cause a tornado. He had been surprised by a tiny alteration in a weather simulation drastically transforming the whole pattern his program produced over two months of simulated weather. His suggestion reminds me of the fictional situation of someone going back in time, accidentally killing a tiny creature to find that everything has changed when they return to the present.

The truth is your existence on this planet is exceedingly valuable and you can make an immeasurable difference not only to the lives of people you love but also to strangers.

Smiling at a fellow passenger on the bus might literally save their life by turing even just part of their day around and reminding them that their existence does have value. Your little gesture of love and kindness may not do something as dramatic as encouraging someone to no longer take action in ending their life, but it can have a profound ripple effect just like the fluttering butterfly.

That is not to say that your life would be unimportant if you decided to live in an environment where you never see another human being for the remainder of your days. Your value is innate not earned and who you are as an individual is absolutely enough. Your worth is not dependent on how many lives you can make a difference to. However, what a huge difference a little ripple can make. We are all on this planet together and collectively as individuals we can breed a culture that recognises the importance of each and every person without ignoring or belittling issues that still need to be addressed.


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