There has been a very long campaign in my state to add the words “sexual orientation” to the list of things that are protected by law. This means being gay or straight would not be a legal excuse to fire someone or not hire them or deny them a loan or any such thing.

Well, the state governing body in Idaho, the Idaho Legislature, denied the initial request. But, the city council in my city, Boise, Idaho, has approved the request. There was at once much celebration and much hand-wringing across the city.

It’s interesting, these laws about identity. Clearly, they are useless in convincing the citizenry to see those who are different as equals—that’s a personal matter and a matter of values—but they do attempt to deter anyone from treating these different types of people poorly because of said differences—which is kind of nice! I mean, if you’re a manager who doesn’t like gay people, all you have to do is not hire a gay person for some other reason, and you’re home free—but it’s the thought that counts.

Anyway… It got me thinking. Perhaps we should go a step further. While being a certain race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation is a rather well-recognized aspect of identity, there’s really much more about identity that really is not well understood—and if we start legislating identity-related issues, we’re ultimately going to see quite a few more laws.

People are different, right? They believe in different gods and eat different foods or speak different languages. We see this in spades in the U.S., the immigrant capitol of the world—and possibly all of history—and for the most part, we do a pretty good job of handling ourselves. (Obviously, there are some disturbing things, like the fact that the majority of people in U.S. prisons are not white. But what I’m saying is that it’s not Saddam Hussein’s treatment of the Kurds or Israel-Palestine over here.)

But are these relatively superficial characteristics all that make us different or unique? Not even close. Personally, I’d like to see some legal protection --> for activists and zealots who are furthering their cause peacefully, what THEE calls cause-centered people. I’ve been intimidated by police on more than one occasion for that. Then, we could add a clause for pragmatists, because there are a few charges on my credit card that were a direct result of that part of my identity. Maybe I can get some government assistance.

All kidding aside, it’s absolutely wonderful the strides humanity has taken to recognize and acknowledge diversity in the last 100 years or so—from universal suffrage to civil rights. However, there are still large strides to be made. And that’s because we have yet to understand—on a large scale—how there are fundamental differences between people --> that are less documented/debated/recognized. Furthermore, many of us don’t even realize how we are different outside of the obvious.

For example, it occurred to me a while ago, when I was reading through the Deciding & Achieving framework, that these different approaches to making decisions might be the root of a significant amount of interpersonal conflict.

Allow me to illustrate. People simply don’t realize that they make decisions in a way that is different from others. And if they are confronted with a different method of decision making, they often simply think it’s stupid and wrong.

It’s intolerance! There ought to be a law…

 I’m a pragmatic decision maker, personally. It’s served me in many ways, but it’s also a huge liability. Thank goodness for my rationalist wife, or I’d probably be broke 90% of the time. I was before we met, actually. But it’s pretty good that I realize that, because I’d probably go through life thinking she never has any fun, except when she’s planned for it months ahead of time. Is that really even fun? To her it is. She thinks I’m whimsical, flighty, which I am.

 It goes much further. There are differences in the way in which people interact with others, work life, and society in general. To some, family trumps literally everything else in life. Others prefer work and making money. Still others just want to feel important.

 The point is: society marches forward. We keep pushing against intolerance and misunderstanding. Through it all, we hope to create a world where someone’s identity isn’t automatically a barrier to achievement, success and happiness. Let’s keep it going; let’s not get comfortable! Let’s consider every aspect of identity and raise awareness. When we’re aware of our differences, I mean those deeper differences that really  matter as we create our lives and communities of our differences—we can look forward to a world fit for people.

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