Twisted Values and Creativity

Link to KaHing’s blog post :-

http://designcritique.wordpress.com/2011/05/01/%E5%9C%B0%E7%94%A2%E9%9C%B8%E6%AC%8A%E8%88%87%E5%9F%8E%E5%B8%82%E5%89%B5%E9%80%A0%E5%8A%9B/#wpl-likebox

Translated excerpt :-

“Real estate hegemony is not only a real estate problem. It is also a problem of monopolization. We often say that Hong Kong’s shopping malls are being homogenized. Shopping centres in most districts are organized in a formulaic way (Wellcome, Park’N Shop, Giordano etc.). This has led to homogenization of sales outlets. Whenever a new company or a new product is introduced, it would have to face blatant discrimination and unfair shop lease terms. The newcomer would have no alternative but to sign the biased lease, even if the shop rent is exorbitant. If the new product being marketed is of a large size, there’s no question of carrying an inventory in the shop, thus effectively increasing the transportation cost of the product. As a result, it is difficult to adjust the product pricing to a reasonably balanced level. Such kind of obstacles created by the real estate overlords are just the tip of the iceberg.

The birth of real estate hegemony was no doubt due to an eccentric political economic structure and various historical factors. But as far as the city’s creativity is concerned, the most destructive force is the warped mentality of its citizens, from which spawned the various distorted values. When industry homogenization is at its extreme, and when buying real estate is forever the fastest way to increasing one’s wealth, what incentive is there for a merchant to focus on his own chosen business? What motivation does he have in elevating his product’s competitiveness through a creative process?

For the small- to medium-size enterprises, given the general cost-inflating effect that real estate hegemony exerts on business operating costs, they wouldn’t have the guts to risk investing in creative designs even if they felt such designs might help their business development.

For the average Joe, his values become homogenized. When “boarding the property train and then waiting for property value to go up” becomes the sole purpose in life, and when a greater part of a person’s life and efforts is spent on achieving that purpose, ‘creativity’ would become a luxury or excess that he couldn’t afford. When people become content with a stable income which they have to use to achieve the end of paying mortgage on a property, they are in effect subjecting themselves to a cravenly and bureaucratic work culture, resisting new ideas and thoughts, fearing change and fearing risks. Such mentality is the anathema of creativity, which often involves change and taking risks.

A city’s creative power is not about organizing such and such international forums, or nurturing a certain number of talents. Neither is it about constructing any number of design centres or cultural hubs. It is about a whole society’s value diversification, with citizens desiring for change and having the courage to explore and to take risks, where people would not view possessing a few pricey bricks as the only measure of success.Yet today, Hong Kong society is one ultra-conservative community who lack the spirit of tolerance and inclusion. How creative can such a society be?"

The same blogger, KaHing, had earlier left comments on a blog post by Wen Sze Zit尹思哲隨筆, lambasting the Apple Daily’s report on three post-80 millionaire property agents, which in his view is a way of promoting the twisted value of money-worshipping and which has absolutely no news value. In those comments, he pointed out that the money-worshippers are just no match for a good number of respectable young people who have chosen to stand up and protest against social injustices as a matter of ideal and principle, in the hope of creating a more equal society and a more level starting point for the future generation. He also bluntly remarked that the older generations’ lack of vision and their distorted values should be blamed for what’s happening today in society.

Lastly, he made an important observation, with which I cannot agree more, and it is that the older generations’ relative success (Jimmy Lai’s included) was to a great extent made possible by a set of facilitating social and environmental factors, which no longer exist in the present-day society. Besides, he said, success is not measured by how much money one has made, but by the positive influence one can exert on future generations and by one’s contribution to civilization and social progress.

Bravo, KaHing!