We live in a world defined increasingly in economic terms. Our idea of the Good Life so often seems to be about greater choice or more stuff. But from time to time that pedestrian world-view is overturned by individuals whose impulse is visionary, idealist or prophetic.
To celebrate that, The Independent today publishes its Good List - a catalogue of 50 moral movers and shakers who are making Britain a better place. Some are idealists - peace campaigners, environmentalists, hospice pioneers, civil rights advocates, lobbyists for the Third World, or individuals who gave up comfortable or lucrative existences to go and live with the poor. Others are pragmatists who have created new realities, remained steadfast in the ethically questionable world of multinational business, or engineered principled change amid the sordid compromises of contemporary politics.
But those we have sought out, above all, are individuals who force us to re-examine the unquestioned assumptions behind our ways of looking at the world. They are people - famous and obscure, rich and poor, religious and secular, young and old - who by their words, or more often their actions, jolt us into re-imagining the world from another perspective. That of poor people, those with disabilities, or refugees. The perspective of the dying, of disturbed children, or of paedophiles. Of other races, sexualities and even other species.
Gratifyingly, the hardest part was the discarding of so many admirable candidates. We learnt that the world is a lot less grim than headlines often suggest.