This is going to be a challenging and difficult blog to write, one that I don’t feel qualified to write, but I feel the need. I may well be wrong on many counts as I lay this out but I believe the central issue is a true one and is in desperate need of an airing.
Tim Berners-Lee changed the world in bringing to life the World Wide Web, that in itself was an astonishing revolution which deserves recognition in its own right, but that is not the issue I want to address here. The issue I want to address is that he gave us the World Wide Web for free as a gift to the world without restriction or favour and what is remarkable about that is he demanded no charge or fee for the time, energy, thinking and training, trial and error and persistence he personally dedicated in achieving it.
I am not sure there is a word to describe what he did, it is neither socialism nor capitalism and open source doesn’t really cover it and nor does philanthropy. He created a new vision in which individuals and groups are prepared to pay or stand the price, even at great personal cost, to give a gift to the world which they steadfastly believe in and are dedicated to.
It is an idea and an ideal that I am personally dedicated to and that is very much the point. It’s a level of personal engagement with the world we live in that is more than altruism, which is described as “disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others”. This much more than that because this growing movement is not disinterested and selfless, it has its heart in my and your self being interested and engaged. Yet it is not selfish either, in the sense of pursuing self interest at the expense of others. It is selfish in that I matter as you matter, it engages the meaning of my life with yours and recognises that we are sisters and brothers in common cause, our humanity, and in a much broader sense of the world and all life including the life of the planet.
In a country like Britain we have a rather silly idea that ‘having a job’ is the be all and end all of living. It’s how we are supposed to secure the means of survival and if we, for whatever reason, are not participating in the job market we are somehow less and a burden on society. Even in needing the necessities of life we are all regarded as consumers and that we must earn the right to consume, including the essentials of food, water, shelter, warmth (energy) and clothing. The problem with that is that the means of earning the right to live exists within a very narrow and restricted set of ideas and rules which from birth we are meant to accept unquestionably and adhere to. Work, in the traditional sense, is based on competition, the owners compete with workers and workers compete with each other for the means of survival, and the more of it we can secure, the better people we are considered to be. The idea that money is the measure of worth is a very silly one, but we are all caught up in it to a greater or lesser degree and, no matter how silly an idea it is, resisting it is very difficult.
Apart from indigenous peoples who, by the very nature of their being, see straight through the absurdity of the myths of ‘western civilisation’, and who, historically to the current day, are regarded and treated (appallingly) as the enemies of civilisation, there is another group of people within our ‘civilised’ world who are resistant to it – creative people. Who knows what the creative drive is but its existence is certain and it does not have much truck with just earning the daily crust and doing the same thing day in day out for a pay packet. Creative people, and I happen to be one of them, are often highly impractical, if not disdainful, when it comes to the mere necessities of life which every creature on earth is tied to, legged, winged, finned, green or amoebic. Caught up in the creative process I forget to eat and drink, and even, in moments of high concentration and captivated endeavour, forget to breath. If you are not a creative person, no one can pay you to be one and if you are a creative person, no job or pay structure can contain you.
That all said, I have a very specific purpose in writing this blog, inspired by someone I admire and respect enormously. Readers may be familiar with the expression, ‘art for arts sake, money for gods sake’ which may seem at odds with the name of this site, ‘Creators not Consumers’, it isn’t. It would be absurd to think I am extolling the virtues of creating over the necessity of consuming. If I do not have access to the means of survival and consume food, water, heat, clothing, etc, I would be just so much dead meat in a very short space of time. I am, in a world gone mad, just making a point, that the reverse statement, ‘Consumers not Creators’, which is very much where we are, is a horrible way to live where creativity is stifled by the driving forces of consumerism and capitalism, both of which are driven by monetary forces which not only stifle life but are responsible for global deaths on an unprecedented scale.
Change is in the air, what Tim Berners-Lee has given the world is an incredible force for good. More and more people are finding expression for their life and being, their thinking and insights, and sharing of themselves, not to make a buck, but to better life for themselves and everyone. It is beyond politics and ideologies, it is far, far better than that. It is full engagement with life for its own sake but, as yet, there is no job market for that so we must make do as we can.
This particular blog was inspired by and is dedicated to Kerry-anne Mendoza, go and read her blog, Scriptonite Daily, and watch this video, she speaks and writes with stunning insight and understanding and scrupulous and painstaking research. Don’t take my word for it, see for yourself and if you can, help her to keep on keeping on. We are moving beyond the mean streets of you must give before you receive, to a world where receiving freely, you might be inspired to give but are under no obligation whatsoever to do so, the gift remains free. There is such a thing as a free lunch and it’s not about paying it forward or any such nonsense, there just is.