As I savor the final moments of the evening, the echo of a train captures my attention. It reminds me of the train that would pass by my childhood home. I ponder, what’s in that train? Freight? Materials? This train of thought lures me to recall an article I read in one of my economics classes: I, pencil.
I, Pencil written by Leonard Read, explains how no one in the world knows how to make a pencil—every detail of the pencil. A pencil is composed of graphite, cedar, rubber, glue, etc, but also the bulldozers used to harvest the cedar, the lighthouses used to guide the ship into port, the people who keep the factory running, the delivery trucks, the assembling factories and where all their equipment comes from. There’s an endless amount of jobs and materials and not one person would know how to build the pieces of all of them.
This phenomenon is referenced as the invisible hand in economics—how unseen forces shape and move the free market. Somehow, everything harmoniously, yet mysteriously, comes together. We are all a cog in the spoke in the wheel of life.
I appreciate this story because it uncovers our inevitable interconnectedness as human beings. We’re all reliant on one another, on our planet, and vice versa. Without our interdependence, we wouldn’t have anything, not even pencils.
I believe our interconnectedness and reliance on other human beings is taken for granted lately. It seems as if people only want to surround themselves with other like-minded people. This is profoundly dangerous. We need growth. We need to have an open mind. We need to stretch our imagination. It’s the beauty of our diversity of thought and varying backgrounds that enable us to be more understanding and bring us closer together.
Unlike any other species, we’ve evolved because of our immense ability to work together. I, for one, wouldn’t want to count myself out of that.
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