I’m not going to lie, writing for me takes effort. I have so many things to say, but to sit down and structure all those thoughts in a cohesive format feels quite serious suddenly. I’m going to try speak from the heart in what I hope feels like a conversation.
So, what do I want to talk about today? Coloured pencils.
My first set of coloured pencils was a beautiful metal set from Faber-Castell. Quite similar to the image below. It was my pride and joy. I was one of those kids who, quite unusually loved school and anything that went with it. The love was not limited to polishing my shoes, ironing the uniform, making sure that my pencils were sharpened and the eraser was free of any marks. The coloured pencil set also got the same treatment; love that veered on touches of over protectiveness. What attracted me was the sense of calm through order – each pencil had a place, a duty and a function.
What I have realised growing up, is that the coloured pencils can also be metaphorical for something else. They are representative of each one of us – we are all unique and have something distinctive to contribute to the whole set or community. What does happen however in society sometimes, is cultural homogenization.
While there are some advantages to a homogenized culture such as in some cases better quality of communication or more global cooperation due to shared understanding of the world, shared goals and shared methodologies of achieving these. Arguably, global cooperation requires a degree of similarity, values are shared in similar cultures. There are also some disadvantages to consider
- Less diversity of ideas. Different cultures are powerful experiments in seeing how else a society could work and provide examples to challenge existing norms and status quo. They provide inspiration for changes within any given culture.
- Blandness in uniformity. Most of us are fascinated to understand how a totally different system works – this allows us to build and innovate.
- There may be some aspect of “specialisation” that comes out of having different cultures. So there could be a net economic loss from this factor (in isolation).
Identify any global brand from Coca Cola to Facebook and the chances are, you will see or feel their presence in most countries around the world – this is exemplary of cultural homogenization on a consumeristic level. It is easy to see homogenization in terms of loss of diversity, identity or the westernization of society. But, the rapid pace of change also raises the more interesting question of why humans have had so many distinct cultures in the first place. If we consider why diversity ever existed we need to talk about migration and survival – and how that has created a psychological make-up of culture and community. The need for this is explored by H. Wiley who states: