The core intention of creating COMMON THREADS is to bring a story to life.
In many cultures the alphabet is considered to be of the highest, most central importance. In some traditions, like Judaism and Islam, the letters of the alphabet are considered almost or in fact sacred themselves. Because nothing is more sacred in these traditions than the respective 'Holy Books'.

In attributing this status to the system of symbols that writing is, two important facts are usually left out of the picture: 1. That letters evolved from drawings. In fact a huge dichotomy is held up in which letters are sacred, and drawings are profane,and sometimes even forbidden. While in fact letters and drawings are two very related versions of the same kind of sign. And 2. That pretty much all alphabets used today, except for the Asian, Chinese based ones, are very related descendants of the very same ancestor writing system, which is the Sumerian one, devised around 3.000 BC.

As kids are taught the alphabet at an age at which their brains are still very fresh, malleable, and susceptible to affective manipulation, hiding the connectedness of something as central to 'our' culture as its alphabet, while ceaselessly emphasizing ours as sacred, embeds at this very young age a fundamental inequality in children's minds regarding who We are, and who the Other is.

There's much more of course, but this in itself is enough to instill in the mind of a child, not unlikely for life: 'we' are sacred. Everyone who writes with other signs is profane.The knowledge that letters derived from drawings, and so many of the alphabets used today are related isn't secret. Today anyone can go and read all about it online, of course. But it isn't exactly widely or deeply cherished or celebrated anywhere I know of either. Even in the supposedly very liberal and science-based present day western society, at the schools I attended in the Netherlands, or visited to offer artscience workshops, I don't recall ever coming across anything like a poster reminding children of the family tree of writing systems.

Why not? I wonder. When six year olds are first taught to write, often drawings are the mental bridge used to help them make those first steps. So while at that, why not teach them the original drawings the letters they are learning derived from?
And while at that, why shouldn't there be a poster anywhere within sight portraying the family tree those letters are part of?

I don't know what principals or teacher might answer if asked this. Maybe they would say that they don't want kids to get confused by seeing so many other signs that look different from the ones they need to master. But I think there's at least partially also another reason for hiding this story of connectivity. Several cultures used to think that they received their alphabets vertically. From the heavens. Rather than horizontally, from other peoples and cultures. The vertical idea contains a great (though misplaced) element of pride. And pride can be something people, both individuals and groups, find hard to let go of. Even if new facts paint a very different picture. History is full of countless stories. But which of these get honored with a song, a book, a film, a place in the state educational curriculum, is an entirely subjective choice. I think the story of how writing was invented and evolved, is a story as beautiful and worthy of bringing to life as there ever was one. Especially in a time like ours, when collective stories of separation and isolationism are experiencing a comeback moment.
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