This isn’t about pretending we’re all the same.
So a guy was telling a story to some friends and colleagues about an interesting, productive and quite entertaining encounter he had with another guy in an electronics store while Christmas shopping. They were both looking for the same type of gift and each possessed varying degrees of expertise on the particular electronic gadget they were looking to purchase. After a couple moments, it was clear that both guys were audiophiles, and soon they were comparing notes on the brands and types of audio and home theater systems they had at home.
Somewhere in the process of retelling the story, the guy noted that his fellow audio enthusiast in the store that day "was gay."
(It’s not known how the storyteller knew or assumed or otherwise concluded the other man was gay.)
The same guy, recounting something to his co-workers one day recently, mentioned that a woman in the story "was African-American." A few weeks later, telling a different story with some co-workers and other people within hearing distance, noted that a person involved in that particular story was, also, "African-American."
"How long until you think we get there? Years? Decades, maybe?" someone in the group asked him.
"Get where?" the guy spinning the yarn replied.
Where, the person explained, people telling a story that features certain types of people, but the type of people they are has nothing to do with the story, and the people telling the story don't feel it necessary to note that those certain people in the story are, for instance, gay, African-American, black, or whatever.
This exchange spurred a lively little debate, as some thought we are rapidly approaching a time when people will just be people, while others felt our society was many, many years away from not feeling the need to point out that certain types of people are, indeed, certain types of people.
Here's hoping we're closer to the former opinion as opposed to the latter. No, this isn't a call to melt everyone's different histories and cultures and skin colors and genders and sexual orientations into some kind of boring, vanilla bowl of mush, where we get to the point that we’re all afraid to even acknowledge that we’re different. This isn’t about pretending we’re all the same.
This is just a call - a hope, really - that we can get to the point where we still recognize, accept and even celebrate our differences, but when those differences have essentially nothing to do with anything we might be talking about or otherwise experiencing, we don't feel the need to point out those differences, as if it’s necessary to do so.
Given the time of year on the calendar, maybe the best way to start down that path is to simply make it a New Year's resolution. Consider it resolved.