Our attitude towards wealth played a crucial role in Brexit. We need a rethink

Public spaces - Hacking , Some readings Aug 01, 2016 No Comments

Press review logoThe great Stephen Hawking offered us an inspiring text about the need to share and rethink our societies in the Guardian. Here are some extracts:

“Does money matter? Does wealth make us rich any more? These might seem like odd questions for a physicist to try to answer, but Britain’s referendum decision is a reminder that everything is connected and that if we wish to understand the fundamental nature of the universe, we’d be very foolish to ignore the role that wealth does and doesn’t play in our society. […] Cash can set individuals free, just as poverty can certainly trap them and limit their potential, to their own detriment and that of the human race.
Paying for my care as a severely disabled man, and my work, is crucial; the acquisition of possessions is not.
So I would be the last person to decry the significance of money. However, although wealth has played an important practical role in my life, I have of course had a different relationship with it to most people. Paying for my care as a severely disabled man, and my work, is crucial; the acquisition of possessions is not. I don’t know what I would do with a racehorse, or indeed a Ferrari, even if I could afford one. So I have come to see money as a facilitator, as a means to an end – whether it is for ideas, or health, or security – but never as an end in itself. […] People are starting to question the value of pure wealth. Is knowledge or experience more important than money? Can possessions stand in the way of fulfilment? Can we truly own anything, or are we just transient custodians? […] I hope and believe that people will embrace more of this cathedral thinking for the future, as they have done in the past, because we are in perilous times. Our planet and the human race face multiple challenges. These challenges are global and serious – climate change, food production, overpopulation, the decimation of other species, epidemic disease, acidification of the oceans. Such pressing issues will require us to collaborate, all of us, with a shared vision and cooperative endeavour to ensure that humanity can survive. We will need to adapt, rethink, refocus and change some of our fundamental assumptions about what we mean by wealth, by possessions, by mine and yours. Just like children, we will have to learn to share.”

The cover illustration is The Guardian’s one: Illustration: Ellie Foreman-Peck

Helene Herniou

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