It is very interesting how we often misperceive or misinterpret people just because of what we perceive them to be doing. My day’s reflections have been centered around this sort of topic. This is because not only have I been working in a community where the members are misperceived by society, but also because I got to go on my police ride-along this evening (more on that later).
Our perceptions of people color what we think about them. So lets play a game:
- A person walks into your church who is dress kind of ragged and looks unkept. He has a beard and his pants are rather torn and tattered. He often will act short with people and seems to have a lot of built up anger
- Next a man walks in and is wearing a shirt and tie and is nicely cleaned up and looks well kept. His mannerisms are kind and gentle. He really cares about you
Now place these two people. Based on stereotypes the first man is homeless and the second person seems middle class. However, after being in this community it has taught me to never judge a book by its cover. We must always look carefully on people who are in our communities, because we have no clue of their backstories. For all we know that ragged person could be a multi-millionaire who just wants to be normal. That well kept person could get cleaned up for church on sunday just to look good for God.
As we were in prayer service today I was just moved by the presence we created in the worship. I saw hearts changing as one of my brothers on this trip preached about finding God in bad situations and trusting in him. It left me in a place where I must think about where God placed me. At lunch I had a chance to talk to a man about the upcoming ALPHA course offered at Christ Church UMC (the church I work at) and he express interest in being part of the group that came from Rising Hope to attend the class. Even more of a point that these people are no different than any of us and they seek the same spiritual knowledge. Our middle-classness does not make us difference spiritually.
The police ride-along was such an experience. I had so many expectations and excitement going into it. My ride was fairly uneventful only a few calls. However, it was fairly dismal night and not many calls were up and not many people getting pulled over. This ride-along made me experience the true culture among police officers. There is a different protocol for police officers because of their job. It was so enlightening to hear what is entailed in a police officers job. How many decisions they make on a second by second basis. Their jobs can be very frustrated because of the way people perceive the things they do. People are quick to assume and slow to ask questions. It is a serious problem in our society. My officer told me he wished people would do police ride-alongs more because it allows them to truly see what police officers do.
So as we live our lives do not be quick to judge, but take a step back and evaluate and ask questions before you assume. My officer told that stations would be more than happy to answer questions about unsafe activity, but we as citizens need to understand that all they do is for our safety and it might be smart to let them do their jobs.