We live in boxes. Those boxes—gender, class, religious affiliation, nationality, ethnicity, age — shape the way people define us and see us, and they can also affect the way we see ourselves. Take “Old,” for example—that box has dozens of implications when it comes to how we understand our ability to be reckless, make change and keep up with a younger person using the latest digital tool.
But we all know that those boxes don’t really define us—right?
Raise your hand if you were ever bullied. If you’re the type of person who helps others. If you have a passion for art. If you…
You get the idea. When you answer these questions race, religion, age and all the other dividers are irrelevant.
On the same day that Donald Trump implemented the “Muslim Ban”—an executive order barring US entry to citizens of seven predominately Muslim countries—a Danish TV station posted a video to YouTube that elegantly rips open our boxes and reminds us that we are united by who we are in a way that’s far more nuanced than any simple demographic categorization. (The day the video was posted also marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day.)
The video, which was designed to counter Denmark’s growing intolerance of ethnic otherness, features 80 Danes who stand in standard demographic groups and then, based on their answers to a set of questions, re-cluster according to their answers.
Who here was the class clown?
Who loves to dance?
Who feels lonely?
Age is not one of the video’s defining boxes, but the concept translates: Whatever our age, we have as much or more in common with others who share our sensibility, our way of being in the world, our interests and passions and values than we do with others who are under 50 or over 60.
The end of the video shows the 80 assembled Danes forming a single group of “all who love Denmark.” We may be a long way from even starting to consider that narrative, but if the world you want to see is a more tolerant one, then busting out of the age box and joining with people who share something more important than a number may be a good start to actually building it.