The Colours of Life

Today I had time to sit back and reflect on current world events over the past few months. My thoughts gravitated to the recent terrorist attacks, Trumponomics, and the implications of BREXIT on the UK economy. I thought to my self, “In the midst of negativity, what did I find positive over the last few months?”

The 13th of March was a special time on the Hindu calendar. The day fell on the time of the full moon (Purnima) and lasted for two days. It was the festival of colours, the arrival of spring and the victory of good over evil. It was the festival of Holi. I found this day to be a time where racial/sexual prejudice was overlooked and the outlook of colour divide became a mere senseless shadow. So I wondered, how is colour being used in society today?

The choices we make are predominantly driven by colour and we fail to recognise it. Colour drives our emotions, our approach and our ability to make decisions. It is important to understand how colour is used in urban societies. From birth, boys and girls are colour coded with blue and pink clothes respectively. We are connected to Mc Donald’s big yellow “M” sign, green means to “go” and red means to “stop” in situations way beyond the usage of traffic lights.

Companies and marketing agencies utilise colour effectively to maximise returns. For example, fast food restaurants use the colour red and yellow to promote faster eating, which enables sales growth and adds more wealth to the back pockets of wealthy store owners. It has been shown that people make healthier dietary choices when using colour on food labels. If you take a closer look at your sandwich, a high salt/sugar content will often be labelled in red. To know more about the physical meaning of colours, click here.

Coming from an Asian background, superstitions overrule our approach and thinking. We, as well as other cultures, believe black cats to be bad luck. When they cross the road, we take another route to dodge the inevitable curse. Did you know that over 5,000 years ago, ancient Egyptians revered and worshiped cats?

Continuing the topic of animals, my cousin has a beautiful black dog named Leo. Due to mainstream media and the views people inherently have on black animals, Leo is wrongfully treated by normal bystanders. They usually walk away and pick up their dogs on the streets to avoid him. Why should anyone interfere an intimate moment between two dogs? Dogs don’t judge other dogs on the way they look, all they want to do is sniff the rear end.

This is a prime example where we overlook someone’s personal qualities and what they have to offer. The tendency to profile someone by their colour brings down humanity. In Nepal, darker skinned individuals get labelled as a “market merchant”. In ancient China fair skin was linked to wealth and prosperity. Currently, people in Asia still prefer to have lighter skin. It was reported from a survey that 4 out of 10 women used skin whitening cream and up to three quarters of Malaysian men believe their counterparts would look more attractive if they had a lighter skin complexion – which they call the “Eurasian or the “Pan-Asian look”.  Click here to find out more.

Colour is a gift we’re born to see, but we misuse it to create social prejudice. Take lessons from a blind man. The blind man is a master of vision. He doesn’t have to see you to know what you are, he just feels it. His senses are restricted so he has to adapt to understand nature’s beautiful artistry – this is a key trait lacking in current society. We constrict our decisions to what looks good to the eye rather than what’s good for our mind, body, and soul. Just like how insects are attracted to pretty flowers, we are similarly attracted to certain things without understanding the overall consequences.

On a lighter note, large corporations and educational instiutions are laying the groundwork for change. Banks are pushing their corporate social reasonability and ethnic quotas. But I wonder, is this a result of an ethnic minority far cry, or, are we accepting the social change. It’s important to recognise that we’re all the same and I created a poem to express this:

 “The colour of our skin is different, 

Racism is a part of life’s game.

Don’t forget the colour of blood,

The one that runs through our veins.”

I hope you enjoyed the read.

Urban Confucius


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