BBC Radio Leicester Thought for the Day

© John Denney 6 October 2006


Face it



Jack Straw, the former home secretary and then foreign secretary and now leader of the House of Commons, has caused a bit of a stir.  He asks any women constituents who wear a full Islamic veil to consider removing it when he’s speaking with them.  He says it’s because he wants to “see what the other person means, and not just hear what they say”.  Some Muslim organisations have expressed anger at what they think is a deep lack of understanding of Muslim sensibilities, while others say that the veil, as opposed to the headscarf, is optional for Muslim women.  It’s not for me to express a view on that.


But I do think that Mr Straw has a point about people’s faces.  A face-to-face conversation is more than just words.  The fleeting expressions on the other person’s face can tell much more than words alone.  There are subtle messages we pick up without knowing it: how frequently they blink, the quizzical eyebrow, the tension in the jaw; whether they’re blushing prettily or they’re red from anger.


The apostle Paul gave some advice for effective Christian work.  It’s good advice for everyone.  Some of it was if you help, just help, don't take over; if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don't get bossy; if you're put in charge, don't manipulate.  Above all, said Paul, keep a smile on your face.[1]


[1] Romans 12:6-8 The Message version (excerpts)