Monday, April 14, 2008

I am unique, just like everyone else.

I spotted the phrase "you are unique, just like everyone else" somewhere. Bumper sticker? Advertisement? Country western lyrics :-) It was new to me and it stopped me dead in my cognitive tracks. In fact I think I derailed. Having uniqueness in common with every human being was something I had never really internalized. It would seem that most things I have seen tend to emphasize the fact that I am unique, and ignore the fact that everyone else is too.

So what? Well, deep down I believe that every person is interesting as you learn more about them. Layer by layer you peel away the stereotypes, typecasting, superficial judgments. The more you expose the real person, the more interesting they get. I admit that it is very hard work with some folks. I certainly can't invest the time in learning to appreciate the uniqueness of every person I encounter. Life is too short. Other things must be done as well.

The epiphany for me was this: I should start by assuming that each person I meet is indeed unique. Of course I will immediately start to categorize, label, and otherwise toss them into little mental bins. But I want to avoid the illusion that I have completely described anyone with the labels. I want to retain the wonder of knowing that they are more rare than any jewel could ever be.
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