Tuesday, August 14, 2007

All pennies have the same value

If you are anything like me you have to work really hard about not being judgmental.

I have heard many stories in my life about this subject. I’m sure you have too. I’d love to hear them.

My favourite is the story of the tramp who stumbled into Church on Sunday morning in his filthy, smelly clothes and proceeded to make his way to the front stumbling along and mumbling incoherently passing the immaculately dressed members of the congregation.

They shuffled uncomfortably in their seats as the tramp made his way towards the pulpit. No one was quite sure what to do and so no one did anything. The tramp seemed oblivious as he looked down at the congregation from the pulpit still mumbling.

They waited in an embarrassed and uncomfortable silence wondering what might happen next.

The tramp took off his coat and hat, removed his untidy, scruffy looking false beard and proceeded to deliver the sermon. The audience quickly realised this was the Minister and so they immediately relaxed. What a wonderful way to make a point.

Was the tramp welcomed as warmly as the Minister? … We all know that's a 'no brainer.'

Although I genuinely hope I am getting better as I get older I sometimes still make wrong assumptions about someone based primarily on their appearance.

I'm working on it but I admit I sometimes still do it!

How about you?

I think it is a very unusual person who can honestly look in the mirror and say they have never been judgmental about someone based on perception; the appearance of the person; maybe even just the reputation that goes before them; their race; their skin colour; their religion; their sexual preference; their lifestyle; the list goes on .....

It was delightful therefore to be reminded by Nicky Gumbel of the wonderful words of GK Chesterton who said;

‘People are equal in the same way pennies are equal. Some are bright, others are smooth, others are sharp and fresh. But all pennies are equal in value.’ G K Chesterton

Next time I feel myself making assumptions I will do well to remember the words of GK Chesterton.


David Wike said...

Look Beyond The Label is a slogan used by the Prince’s Trust to encourage looking at the real person, not the outward appearance. Of course, I NEVER make assumptions, so I’ll tell you a story about someone else instead!

When I was an active sailor, I was standing chatting to a man who had only recently joined our club. He was a newcomer to the sport and was very keen to learn, so he’d been on a sailing school holiday somewhere in the Mediterranean. As we stood beside the lake, a young woman sailed past. Apparently our new man had been talking to Debbie a short while earlier, and he’d asked her if she’d been to a sailing school as he thought she sailed quite well. My impression was that he meant ‘quite well for a woman’.

Apparently her reply was a bit vague and hadn’t mentioned that she had been world champion in her class a couple of years previously! As I enlightened him I’m sure he felt like throwing himself in the lake to hide his embarrassment!

Trevor Gay said...

Thanks for that David - a timely reminder to us all about making assumptions about gender strengths and weaknesses.

Another example …

I once had a very astute boss who arranged for some folks with a learning disability to serve drinks and refreshments at a public meeting.

The meeting was organised to listen to anxieties from local residents about a home opening for 6 people with a learning disability who had previously lived in the hospital where I was the manager. A very clever strategy from my boss that made people really think about what it was they were anxious about ….or was it just a judgmental view of learning disability?? …. Fascinating subject

David Greeff said...

Not to be judgemental is almost impossible for me. I guess the DIVIDE between what we receive through our senses, and what conclusions we come to is the issue. For me the battle is renew my mind as per Romans 12:2, and think about people the way God tells me to think about them - as people created in God's image - which is ... wow - to be of infinte value! But I have lots of habits to break!
I like the chesterton pennies analogy!

Trevor Gay said...

Thanks David G - hey I'm getting invaded by David's!!

Wise words and what a role model the Big Boss is to live up to - that is why I guess why we are all flawed. We all have habits to break :-)

John Wesley was told by a person that he simply could not find it within himself forgive someone for a wrong doing. Wesley said calmly 'I pray you never make a mistake'

David Wike said...

At a Prince’s Trust meeting I heard a brilliant example of appearance affecting judgement. It was the story of a teenage lad who played in a group, mostly around clubs and pubs. As a result, he was often walking home late at night and was frequently picked on and roughed up by other youths.

It appeared that his long blonde hair was the cause of this, as there often comments about his sexuality. Eventually he got fed up with this treatment, so he shaved his head. Not only did he have no further trouble, but he recognised some of those who now crossed the street to avoid him as being his previous aggressors!

Trevor Gay said...

Another great story David - thanks again. Perception is everything!

Dan said...

Chesterton is amazing, isn't he? Great insight into the value of pennies...

Trevor Gay said...

Thanks Dan - What a man GK must have been - I sometimes ponder how wonderful it would be to have met these gurus ... if only time travel were possible. Such a gifted wordsmith and always so simple.