I say cultural because now after the influence of industrialism and the manufacturing boom, we are enjoying the fruitful bounty of a consumer market in which our products are virtually identical. The integrity of a product is almost completely founded on its ability to be homogenous thus creating some substantial reliability. In other words, the level at which a product is produced and presented must be maintained in order for the public to feel as if it is a good product.
The problematic nature of this way of marketing and consuming reveals itself when it is applied to those items and services which naturally deny homogeneity like unprocessed foods (fruits, veggies, etc.), and customer services (service industry jobs, repairs, etc.). It is not natural for these things to be homogenous amongst their various groups and services because they are acted upon by nature and the human condition. The trend amongst companies is to show a strong reliable hand in acting upon nature and the human condition to bring you the highest quality, most perfect, unchangeable, product or service possible.
It is amazing. I am apt to give in to the awe felt by seeing all my tomatoes look the same and feel the same. I am apt to feel secure about the ability to so easily replace something beloved because there are 10 more of them at the store just the same as the first. I am amazed to see a company use technology to subvert the discrepancies naturally produced by the universe. There is no better example of the power of our consumer culture.
And even as I have made a strong argument for the pros of such a cultural phenomenon, the cons are becoming more and more evident through time and process. What we hold as an ideal may in fact be breeding an unadaptable, inflexible, dead end mentality. What feels like progress now may be creating our future stagnation!
The issues with homogeneity are complex. Ground zero of the problem may actually lie in the focus of our ideals as professionals. Systems of homogeneity are in place to create more reliability and less waste. However, ultimate sustainability in a business or community relies on the entity's success at being adaptable. The focus on homogeneity leaves no room for difference. Homogeneity is the steam roller that creates, in its extremity, moderation....but then as the saying goes, "everything in moderation...including moderation." In other words, if we eliminate the differences than we don't have to allow for them; we don't have to adapt to them. If we don't have to adapt, then we don't have to be flexible. If we don't have to be flexible, then we can feel confident in showing no affectation towards differences positive or negative across the board. With this power, we serve to conquer nature instead of cooperate with it!
I want to bring this conversation back. I want to bring it back to the moment in which you hold in your hand the power to choose. You hold in your hand the leafy green spendy money that this world relies on to turn its business cogs and lube the household processes. In this moment I am asking you to take a look at the tension. Observe closely the tension between the goal of (as of yet unattainable) perfection and the natural order of imperfection. In some cases it can be paired down to man-made versus nature made, but not all situations will be so forthcoming. Scrutiny of a very patient and accepting manor may be necessary to gather all the information that will support the power of your choices. And as you choose the source from which your item or service follows, regard for yourself how the source of that item or service serves this world.
Do not be afraid to be self serving in creating a world that will allow for your differences and the differences of others. Sustainability is only possible through community, connection, creativity, growth, and change. By this, I mean that I am relying on you to make decisions that will benefit yourself and others and that you are relying on me for the same. In this way, we create the connections of trust between us that create society. We create our environment and our communication from this. In THIS way, we thrive.
I do not have to show you that I am the most punctual, perfectly clean, most affordable cleaner ever, because the heart of my work lies in my ability to be trustworthy, compassionate, knowledgeable, and helpful. In THIS way, I will serve you best.