I recently had reason to undertake some air travel with my dear wife.
She is a woman who has always charted her own path, sets her mind to a course and follows through. Her father is the same. And that is not only where the similarities are found. Like her father, whose hair went silver white in his early 40’s, her hair colour started to change relatively young also.
Now I must pause and establish clarity for you all, that I do have permission to share this story (sort of) and am not putting my personal safety at risk! (I hope)
Anyhow, for a few years, she did add colour to her hair but at some stage, not too many years in, she just went “who cares” and allowed her hair to do its thing. Now in some weird alignment with global trends of hair stylists across the planet, the creative blending of black, grey, white and numerous shades in-between, has had her hair ‘on trend’ for years and years. She is often asked who does her hair, where did you get the idea from etc. So there has been widespread accolades and positivity.
But sadly, there is a dark side to all this affirmation.
As we approached the security check in for Qantas at Sydney airport a few weeks ago, who could have known about the horrific event awaiting us.
With advances in scanning technology, you no longer are required to empty your carry on bags of aerosols, laptops etc. (nice change) You also now walk through ‘pause and 360 scan’ body scanners instead of the old school ‘doorway’ scanners that take a quick scan as you walk through. Although they do keep one of those operational for scanning those who cannot go through the 360 scanners: such as those with metal body replacement parts, you know what I mean, normally the elderly.
So as yours truly, promenades sprightly ahead of his wife towards the 360 scanner, with my youthful gait mirrored by my appropriately ‘ungreying’, albeit thinning, hair style: my wife places her bags and follows behind.
At that very moment, a kindly and may I say ‘now lucky to be alive’ security guard, breaks rank from the line of his scrutinising supervising peers, and with the clear intent to be a helpful Boy Scout, kindly intercepts my wife as she heads for the ‘360 scanner’ and extends a guiding arm towards the older ‘doorway scanner’, whilst politely enquiring / observing “any knee or hip replacements love?”.
Oh no. She was separated out from the herd. Singled out because of hair colour. Wrongly identified as an aged member of society. Someone in need of extra care and concern. Naturally I was affronted on her behalf and indignant, and just as any loving 30 plus years of marriage spouse would say, I called back over my shoulder as I arrived at the ‘360 scanner’.
“Take your time Tracey, I will just go through the young person’s scanner, you stay in the elderly queue.”
Perspective and assumption. Similar but different.
Assumption: that quick, superficial judgement, is loaded with risk. Loaded with bias. Loaded with error just waiting to rear its greying head.
Perspective is the accumulation of evidence: sights, sounds, feelings, thoughts, research, consideration, deliberation, evidence.
The story of Samuel, (1 Samuel 16, and in particular verse 7) where he is acting on God’s leading in – interviewing Jesse’s sons in the search for the next King of Israel – he becomes frustrated with God as his assumption time and time again indicated that surely, this son was the right one.
But God reminded him that He looks not just on the outside, but at the heart. That the decision was not based on assumption but perspective: an accumulation of evidence.
So as we close off the week, let’s each consider; do we operate on assumptions or perspectives. One requires more effort than the other, one is front loaded with bias the other backed up by evidence. One increases our risk of error and collateral damage, the other gives us the best possible opportunity to make right choices.
It is never a wasted effort to take the time to gain a perspective rather than jump on an assumption.
This word of encouragement for Christian educators was written by Dean Bennetts, and distributed in The Bridge newsletter in 2023. Dean is the CEO of Adventist Education in North New South Wales, Australia.