I, Daniel Blake left me in despair. We have become a cruel society in our quest for efficiencies and measurable outputs. Ken Loach focuses his lens on the desperation felt by those of us down on our luck. The systems put in place by government agencies, insurance companies and other corporate giants seem designed to crush the human spirit. And not just the spirit of those accessing services, but also the compassionate nature of their employees, who are bound by rules and hounded by supervisors to tow the company line.
We used to have respect for people who were less fortunate, a “there but for the grace of god” feeling of regard. A seemingly forgotten, though important aspect of respect is the consideration for the feelings, wishes, and rights of others. This has been largely forfeited, replaced by the popular notion that if you work/study/strive/want it hard enough you will be magically rewarded. This idea of meritocracy is dangerous, it allows us to write people off as unworthy, a difficult stance to justify given the wealth distribution statistics. The Oxfam Davos report highlights that “The gap between rich and poor is reaching new extremes. Credit Suisse recently revealed that the richest 1% have now accumulated more wealth than the rest of the world put together… Meanwhile, the wealth owned by the bottom half of humanity has fallen by a trillion dollars in the past five years. This is just the latest evidence that today we live in a world with levels of inequality we may not have seen for over a century.”
Yet I still believe there is enough to go around, though flummoxed by the mechanisms required to make this happen. Surely we can strive to be a respectable society – it is not proper, nor decent that “62 people own the same as half the world”. Perhaps the solution is imminent, the start up world of digital enterprises promises a sharing economy which I hope we can embrace.