On keeping up with the Joneses
“Dr. Wintle, Medical Officer of Health for South Oxfordshire, offers advice in his annual report on how to avoid coronary thrombosis. ‘Stop trying to keep up with the Joneses,’ he says.
“The doctor gives bad advice.
“It is competition which provides life, with the most health-giving dement of all—zest Britain would indeed be in a sad state to-day if her captains of industry, her scientists and inventors, had never had the urge to get ahead of the Joneses.
“Besides, there are far greater dangers to human happiness than those which come from coronary thrombosis.
“Worrying about an illness which may never happen is one of them.
“Becoming a vegetable is another.”
The writer does not feel qualified to comment on the merits or demerits of the doctor’s medical opinions. It would appear, however, the Sunday Express is of the opinion a desire to get ahead of the Joneses is the driving force of scientists and inventors. Yet if we read the lives of many famous scientists and inventors, we find many of them spent their lives pursuing their aims regardless of reward. A British inventor died in poverty; yet he revolutionised the cotton industry by his invention of the spinning jenny. For though a great inventor he was no business man and was in fact swindled out of the patent rights of his invention. No desire to outdo the “Joneses” here. If we turn to France we find an even better example of devotion to science for its own sake without thought of gain; Pierre and Marie Curie discoverers of radium, steadfastly refused to make money out of their discovery. To use the words of Marie Curie in a conversation with her husband Pierre: “If our discovery has a commercial future, that is, an accident by which we must not profit. And radium is going to be of use in treating disease. It seems to me impossible to take advantage of that” So much then for the comments of the Sunday Express on the driving force, with its avowed belief in the health-giving qualities of competition. There is, however, nothing healthy about present-day competition, since it breeds resentment, jealousy and frustration.