Our assumptions shape our assessments of other people’s characters and trustworthiness. Whether or not our assessments are rooted in expectations about age, appearance, gender, ability or ethnicity, such assumptions can be damaging.
Unchecked and unchallenged, they can lead to negative judgments that cause their targets to feel unwelcome. Adults with a youthful appearance can struggle to be viewed as mature and grownup. Children who look older than their ages can be judged as “immature” even when acting in age-appropriate ways. Older adults may find their contributions minimized. Younger adults may be presumed to be too inexperienced to serve as effective leaders.
Those whose size or appearance does not fit cultural standards of beauty may be bullied or ostracized. Those with disabilities can struggle to be treated with respect. Practicing good hospitality involves becoming aware of our own biases and examining our assumptions.
This message is an excerpt from the devotional “All are welcome” by Julie Kanarr in the May 2018 issue of Gather magazine.
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