Upon hearing the sad news of the death of legendary mathematician, John Nash, and his wife, Alicia, I was struck with an immediate desire to dig out ‘A Beautiful Mind’ from our stack of DVDs. It seemed like a fitting tribute and celebration of the life of one of the greatest mathematical intellects of our time. Settling down to start watching, I realised what an amazing thing it is to have a record of his life and works set down as a film, and an award-winning one at that. It made me wonder if, without it, I would even know who he was?
One of the big struggles that I face in this world of instant celebrity and social media, is the fact that those we seem to celebrate the most are those that seem to have done the least that is worthy of praise. Why is it that we admire the rich and famous, and what is it that they have actually done to become so in the first place? Don’t get me wrong, sports stars and actors often have talent in spades, and some make excellent role models, but unfortunately, the majority of those thrust into the public eye are sadly lacking. Where are the scientists and doctors, lawyers and philosophers, humanitarians and peace-keepers? Why are there so few people of integrity and character in the limelight?
I know that fame is not for everyone, and that I would hate to be hounded by media if it were me, but I feel like we should at least make an effort to find role models that are worth following.
People like Corrie Ten Boom, who helped to hide hundreds of Jews during the Nazi occupation of Holland, and who later was able to meet and publicly forgive one of the guards that held her in a concentration camp.
Or Professor Molly Stevens of Imperial College, who managed to mix together the fields of biochemistry and engineering to pioneer ways of growing human bone to use for transplants.
Or Amal Clooney, who’s actor husband gets all of the attention, but who is a lawyer and activist, working in a field she is clearly gifted in, to bring about change in cases of human rights abuses and genocide.
It makes me wonder what the world would look like if those that did the most for mankind were the ones that we looked up to. What would this world be like if kindness was rated higher than wealth, and serving the poor was given more prestige than a PhD? I think it would be a world that I would like to live in. I would certainly have more hope for it than I do for the current generation. We have allowed it to be raised on a diet of Paris Hilton and the Kardashians, and will end up reaping the fruits of that decision.