I was walking to work today a bit after 8 on a clear bright morning, and up ahead near Government House noticed a group of Aboriginal people sitting on the path. I was very interested in analysing my own instinctive reactions and then my subsequent responses to those reactions.
My initial thought was to deviate from the path and pass them at some distance. Then I asked why I reacted that way. I wasn’t exactly sure.
Maybe they’ll ask me for some money, and I’ll feel bad when I say no, so I’ll avoid the situation entirely. I don’t want to give them anything because I’m sure they’ll just blow it on booze.
Maybe they’ll get violent towards me; but that’s never happened to me before when I’ve walked past similar groups, they’ve tended to just sit and mind their own business. The only times I’ve been asked for money is when people have been walking around on their own.
So I kept walking towards them, still with some reticence. Then I had another thought, one which has occurred to me more than once in the past but one I’d rarely done something about.
I’ll say hello.
So I bravely kept walking towards this group of fairly surly-looking people talking roughly to each other, and as I passed them on my left said “Morning”. Their faces brightened, they simultaneously raised their hands and waved and greeted me in return. As I walked on one of them called out asking for the time, which I provided, and I went on my way. Without molestation, foul language or being chased for a ‘cupla bucks for a sandwich’. Instead I felt a warm feeling inside that I’d made a small connection with a group of people who have much less than I do and who I’d rarely crossed paths with.
I wonder how many other people must walk past Aboriginals, homeless people, a group of skateboarding kids and similar groups and just ignore them because they have similar fears to mine? To them we probably look like a bunch of too-good snobs who can’t deign to look upon them, and maybe there’s an element of that for some. But I’m sure for others they share similar fears and just want to avoid the situation. Maybe some of these people aren’t chasing money or booze – maybe they’d just like someone show them enough respect to give them a few seconds of their day to acknowledge they exist and to feel like a human being again.
I went to the shops a few weeks ago looking for breakfast cereal. I naturally gravitated to the products we normally bought, including a box of corn flakes. The box was well coloured advertising its health benefits and a competition for some free promotional products. However having been to a nutrition seminar at work not that long ago I took particular note of the ingredients and compared this with another brand alongside – this was a plain white box with a fairly minimalistic picture on the front, the sort of thing one tends not to look twice at, but when I read the ingredients I found this rather dull looking products contained less sugar, less fat and more fibre than the fancy looking one. Finally they were cheaper and tasted just fine!
When you go shopping, your attention may be arrested by fancy packaging or “2 for 1” offers and the like; but ultimately you’re interested in the product itself and how it works, not how fancy the box is. This is a lot like people. Someone’s physical appearance is just the packaging, but the product inside is their character. You don’t become friends or more with someone simply for how they look, just as you can’t live with a disagreeable and prickly person just because they’ve got a pretty face. In the same way, outward appearance counts for precious little in a committed, long-term relationship.
This was brought to mind when I read some comments Bindi Irwin made recently. People comfortable with themselves don’t feel the need to attract artificial attention by the way they dress (or don’t dress!). In the eyes of some, fancy packaging through immodesty or excessive attention on the outward appearance minimises the beauty of your character, to the point some may interpret this to mean there really isn’t much inner beauty at all! In the case of immodest clothing, this can cause you to become perceived by some more as an object than a person, which helps neither you nor them. Down the track, people who have felt the need to attract artificial attention often end up wishing they’d held their honour a little higher.
The Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, has also drawn the attention of the media because of how modestly she chooses to dress, something noted as a breath of fresh air. Modest attire allows the beauty of our character to show.
The Apostle Peter says the following: “Let yours not be that outward adorning… but the hidden person of the heart” 1Peter 3v3-4. Male or female, I think there’s a lesson there for all of us – focus on developing a beautiful character, something which transcends and outlasts any physical beauty.
When I say “Qantas” in the context of recent media coverage, do you think “financial troubles” or “outstanding safety record”? Chances are it’s the first, and that you didn’t see any of the major papers making a big noise about an article published online in January 2014 hailing Qantas’ safety record. The site claims to be “the world’s only safety and product rating website” and recently announced its top ten safest airlines for 2013 from the 448 it monitors. And Qantas came out on top. But I bet you didn’t read about it.
A couple of years ago I happened to walk along Gawler Place in Adelaide, between Rundle Mall and North Tce. It wasn’t my normal route to the bus stop but for some reason my journey took me that way (I’m hoping I was buying flowers for my wife in the Mall!). Anyway I stumbled across this Ditters Nuts shop which looked for all the world like it was still in the 50’s. I don’t say this as a criticism at all, because in a world that’s always changing it was refreshing to see a little business which had evidently been in the same place for many years, still going about its business. Over the next few months I made a point of stopping by Ditters and sampling their delicious wares (if you’ve never had freshly roasted nuts you haven’t lived!). Continue reading Here today, gone tomorrow→