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Music and the Spoken Word: Do you simply 'look' at people, or do you 'see' them? Here's why this distinction matters

Can your eyes be fooled? It actually happens every day. What looks like a leaf sometimes turns out to be a well-camouflaged insect. A shadow on the wall can make a harmless tree branch look like something much more menacing. And the objects in a rearview mirror are often closer than they appear.

Those are usually harmless mistakes. But what about our perceptions when we look at a person? We might think we can easily discern a person’s intelligence, moral character and abilities. But are our eyes deceiving us?

A newspaper reporter was covering the story of a soup kitchen that served the homeless. She chose a patron to interview, a middle-aged woman, and asked what she thought of the facility. The woman gave an articulate, detailed analysis and expressed her gratitude, stunning the reporter with her poise and confidence. It was a lesson learned not to judge someone by appearances.

Henry David Thoreau once said, "The question is not what you look at, but what you see" (Thoreau's journal entry for Aug. 5, 1851). When you view a beautiful painting, you are looking at brushstrokes, colors and lines. But what do you see? That depends on whether or not you allow the artwork into your heart, to teach you, to move you, to inspire you. Every painting is more than just paint. And the same is true of every person. When we meet someone, do we look beyond the outward appearance to see the soul within?

We’ve all been misjudged and labeled based on nothing but a hasty first impression. Sadly, we sometimes even misjudge ourselves; self-judgment is often the harshest kind of all. And we have witnessed how sweeping generalizations based on culture, politics or religion can prevent us from seeing that we have more in common with one another than it may appear.

Don't let your eyes — or your prejudices — deceive you. If we are willing to see past the superficial and treasure the very heart of those we meet, we'll realize that each human being we meet is one of God's precious children. That is the difference between looking and seeing.

Tuning in …

“The Spoken Word” is shared by Lloyd Newell each Sunday during the weekly Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square broadcast. The above message was given on Feb. 3, 2019.

The “Music and the Spoken Word” broadcast is available on KSL-TV, KSL Radio 1160 AM/102.7 FM, ksl.com, KSL X-stream, BYU-TV, BYU Radio, BYU-TV International, CBS Radio Network, Dish Network, DirecTV, SiriusXM Radio (Channel 143) and on the Tabernacle Choir's website and YouTube channel. The program is aired live on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. on many of these outlets. Look up broadcast information by state and city at musicandthespokenword.org.

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