20 March, Saturday — Prejudices and Biases

Saturday of the 4th Week of Lent

Jer 11:18-20
Jn 7:40-52

…prophets do not come out of Galilee.

“He/She is from ________, that’s why they make good _____________.” I find it a tad shocking that in this day and age, people still come up with comments that demonstrate certain biases towards a particular race/gender/educational background or judge people simply on where they live, the car(s) they drive, or what they wear. Never was it more evident for me than when I was living in the Middle East and working for a large organisation that employed, at one stage, 58 different nationalities. And until proven wrong, one went about doing business with various coloured lenses in order to protect oneself. Yes, it was truly tiring, especially when one had to create and maintain a certain ‘image’.

Even today, I still get asked the inevitable question — “So what do you teach?” when I tell others I work in a university. I hardly look bookish nor have a habit of dressing in mismatched jacket and trousers (that’s a ‘stereotype’ I am calling out). But I have come to accept that it is natural for us to pigeonhole others so that we can form certain assumptions and make judgments in our dealings with people. Yet, when I walked the Camino de Santiago more than five years ago, there was a distinct lack of that feeling of being typecast when I responded to “So, whereabouts are you from?” It truly didn’t matter because on the Camino, everyone was a pilgrim searching for that Christ encounter or whatever answers they were after.

Over the years, I have found that being authentic to oneself is the best way to prove others wrong; to debunk any stereotypes people may have in their minds about how someone who came from advertising/marketing/PR should behave or would react. Because inevitably, when they realise that I approach any situation or problem with a clear, objective mindset, then everyone wins. There is no ‘agenda’ per se and those involved are set at ease — and they can be authentic to one another.

Brothers and sisters, that is what Jesus was to everyone. He didn’t hide from His calling or mission, and He constantly reminded those around him why He was here on earth. But besides showing us how to live as Christians, He also set an example for us to follow — to drop all pretense and to live authentically so that those who encounter us know us for who we are — sons and daughters of God. Otherwise, we will exhaust ourselves trying to live to a certain ‘mould’ without letting God truly mould us into His image.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Desmond Soon)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we look to you to shape us, to mould us, and to form us in your likeness so that we can truly be counted as a son or daughter. We pray for those struggling to find their purpose and for those who are living lives that are not integrated with you. Show them your heart Lord, so that they may open theirs to your light. We lift up all those who lack role models in their lives and ask that you continue to be present to their needs and to hear their pleas.

Thanksgiving:  Lord, we thank you for constantly showing us what it means to be your children.

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