Sunday, 14 March 2010

Comparison Cites

Remember Amadeus? No? Try Shakespeare in Love, or A Knight's Tale. Perhaps Moulin Rouge does it for you? Romantic escapism from the humdrum of our lives – except that to varying degrees these films are peppered with real heroes – generations of inspiration without which we'd be poorer.

Now take your favourite artist and place him or her somewhere in The Matrix (I'm sticking with films for now) at some point before humanity is plugged in. Then again, perhaps you're a scientist or technologist, so you may prefer Marie Curie or Tim Berners-Lee. I shan't hold a difference of opinion against you!

For the sake of argument, let's say each of our esteemed artists, scientists or technologists is making money - not a great deal, just a comfortable amount - enough to get by. If you're familiar with Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, imagine that the bottom tiers are pretty much sussed - food, clothes and shelter, plus one or two relationships to share life's pleasures.

 

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In a developed country like the UK, I'm hoping most of us have this too, not least when the Minimum Income Standard takes such needs for granted. Yet on Wednesday, The Guardian published details of an OECD report stating we have the worst social mobility of any developed country. Alarm bells should be ringing.

Taking a materiallistic view of what is needed to survive, there is nothing so remarkable about goods which meet basic needs. However we spruce them up, these are commodities which all of us use. Exclusivity may quite rightly seem the premise of the rich, but here lies the crux, for it is our creativity, innovation and inventiveness which makes this so.

To ignore the value of originality places the prosperity of all at risk. Amidst a prognosis of food and fuel shortage we are all the more foolish for perpetuating financial schism. Tied to incessant comparisons for basic needs - food, fuel and financal services - are we not wasting that most precious of energies our imagination?

What would your inspiration have achieved if he or she had to search and switch, year in year out, for the cheapest bank account, the lowest interest rate, the latest discount? Are we getting to a point where we know the cost of everything and the value of nothing?
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