Wow! Have I been learning about presumptions of late! As you know we are renting rooms via Airbnb which is a very open site which says encourages people to give a profile about themselves so both host and guest sort of know what they are letting themselves into. Well when we had a Malaysian girl staying for a month and working at the local hospital I had decided she must be a nurse. No she was a trainee doctor and a fascinating person too. Just last week we had a French guy book in for him and his girlfriend so I just presumed they were both from France. No she was from Russia and he was studying in UK. Again a mistake made. Then our latest guest, I could not quite make out the name but for some reason had decided that we had a man staying. Imagine my surprise when I met this lovely woman.
I am never sure how I make these presumptions but I know we all do. We have boxes we put people in and for some reason that is how we view the world. I am sure some of it is because it makes life easier in the broad sense. But I also think this is where we can make so many mistakes. I have often had people say to me that I am nice for a Christian or that I don’t behave like a Christian. I remember once when living in Belfast and going to a lovely church that was really into reaching out to the people who lived in the more deprived part, which was actually where we lived, one of the ladies being supported saying that she couldn’t believe I was “church” as she said. Why? It was her presumptions. I couldn’t be a Christian, be “church”, if I lived where she lived, spoke like she did, let my kid play with hers maybe. But that was something that was holding her back, and many like her from getting to know God.
I also think in this run up to this EU referendum we have to down to personalities and that then gives rise to presumptions. If Boris supports Leave then it will look like “x” but if Patrick Stewart supports Remain then it will look like “y”. Why do we think that? Because our preconceived ideas cannot cope with certain people being in certain camps and then us joining with them.
How do we get beyond that? I think we need to be aware of it. So I need to be aware when I make a presumption about one of our guests that I have done that. I need to look at why I my first thought for a Malaysian girl coming here to work in a hospital was that she must be a nurse, that I couldn’t imagine a French person going out with anyone other than another French person, and that somehow the wording on things make me decide gender.
Just recently Airbnb has been pulled up because of prejudices from its hosts – which actually is a silly thing to pull the company up for. It is basically a forum to help people find cheaper accommodation not an employer. And also its host rating system is based on those who stay not on those who don’t. There are a few people I would have liked to have given 1 stars to who never got back to me, or who stayed with us but did not do reviews for us, but that is not how the system works. Ok so its not foolproof but the ratings do work for when people stay so … But the point is we do not know where the prejudices from these hosts who have refused come from. Perhaps when they see that someone is of a different colour, race, religion, sexual orientation they have some presumption of the character of that person. Should legislation force them to have these people in their homes? I don’t think so. We cannot change people’s hearts by forcing them. I know if I was forced to have someone in my home I did not feel comfortable with for whatever reason I would not behave well. I have had one or two that I have wondered about beforehand but have let them stay and all has been fine. But that was my choice not a law telling me I had to.
So how do we change people’s preconceived ideas? We can’t. As with everything we can only change our own. But then we can share with others in a kind way. We are part of a Bible study group that have their own presumptions about things. We cannot tell them they are wrong but we can say about those we know who are different colour, race, religion or sexual orientation to us, but also we have to accept these people as lovely people and not be prejudice against them. In fact I think this is one of the hardest things to deal with – not being prejudiced against people who have prejudices we disagree with. If we do not love the gun toting right wing fundamental then how can they ever change?
My presumptions could lead to prejudices which could lead to me not allowing people into my home, not let me speak to people in a supportive way, and I need to be aware of that. The only person I can really change is me but the only way I can do that is by being aware.