Alan has dyslexia. A few years ago his employers tested him… He’s in the bottom 2% of the population for his ability in reading and writing; his IQ test showed that he was in the top 2% for ‘intelligence’!
Craig’s a barman in a local pub. He look like a stereotypical night-club bouncer. A few years ago he asked a gent who had had too much to drink to leave his pub. Craig was gentle, compassionate, sympathetic; he used not his strength but his kindness.
Too often we give people all-defining labels that puts them in boxes – gay, black, divorced, spinster, rich, unemployed, disabled, overweight, trouble-maker, diabetic, anti-social, hyper-active, autistic….
I spent my working-life in education. Friends tell me ‘I can’t do maths’, ‘I don’t like reading’, ‘I was never any good at geography’… It seems that all school did for many people was to give them a negative label – tell them what they can’t do.
This negative, deficiency model of life is seen elsewhere – doctors tell you of your physical imperfections; mental health experts tell you about your psychological difficulties; religious experts describe your moral and spiritual failures.
…The complex diversity of each individual makes us all unique. Ticking one or two boxes in forms describes a small part of me. We do ourselves and each other a disservice whenever we pre-judge folks because they fall into a particular category.
…We need to focus more on promoting the good than eliminating the bad; accentuating the positive rather than eliminating the negative; developing, modelling and promoting health and happiness, friendship and laughter, hope and compassion.
Jesus was talking about shepherds and sheep: ‘The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.’ Too often we’ve focused on preventing death and destruction rather than how, helped by the Good Shepherd, unique sheep can enjoy life to the full.