I have just had an ‘invitation’ to renew my car insurance. It seems to be significantly higher this year and the email I received this morning explains that this is because insurers can no longer take a customer’s gender into account when preparing their car insurance. I’m not sure why that makes it more expensive, but I would like to know why.
The email continues…
If I take a ‘moment’ to provide some new information they will give me a more accurate price, tailored to me. There is a strong hint that doing so will save me money on the quote. Now I am intrigued. What information that they don’t already have can reduce the amount of money they want from me to insure my car?
I don’t think my hobbies will make a difference (unless they are driving in demolition derby events or rallying (they aren’t in case my insurer reads my blog!)). I can’t imagine that my height would be of interest to them unless I am too small to see over the steering wheel or reach the pedals. Would they want to know about the last film I watched (if it was one with a car chase in it I might be tempted to emulate it).
This is a blog in progress so I am now going to blog off for a moment (because the email said it would only take a moment), find out what other information they want, and will then report back to you.
[lots of moments pass]
[blogs back on]
And after providing all of the information they asked about, all of which they already had, the quote changed by a massive £0.00! I am trying to remain philosophical about it. I will consult a few other insurers (and possibly some meerkats) to see if there is a better price available.
Where I thought all this was leading was in fact not where it ended up. I was wondering what alternative information to gender would make a difference for them. What else would they use to judge me? The answer is ‘nothing’. There is no difference.
I wonder what criteria you use to judge people. Oh, yes, I know we don’t judge people. We accept everyone equally.
But we do judge people: on the basis of their appearance (well-dressed or scruffy for example); or on the basis of the sound of their voice (posh or common?) We judge others on the basis of all sorts of criteria – usually comparing them to ourselves (not to meerkats). How are they different from us and how are they similar?
This is something we do almost instinctively. We evaluate other people. I guess anthropologists might say that it is an evolutionary instinct to assess whether someone is a potential threat, ally or even mate.
The issue is whether the difference makes any difference.
I think it should.
Yes, I really did say that differences should make a difference to us.
Hold on, put those stones down for a moment and hear me out!
I am not saying that there is any excuse for racism, sexism, ageism or any other heinous prejudice-based ‘ism’. Not at all.
But some differences are meant to make a difference.
‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’
Jesus read those words from Isaiah 61 and said that they were written about him. But how are we going to proclaim good news to the poor if we do not first notice who is poor? How can we release prisoners if we don’t see that some people are in shackles? How do we help the blind to see if we ignore the lack of sight?
The difference that difference should make is that it motivates us to make a difference (positively) to the lives of those whose lives are less than they could be. Followers of Jesus are called to carry on his work: to be good news and bring it; to be freedom-bringers (campaigning against slavery in its modern forms, seeking to help people bound by debt, blessing those who are imprisoned spiritually…); to be sight-recoverers (helping people to see the truth about God, seeking to work against disability discrimination, using our newly insured cars to help people who haven’t got transport of their own…); and telling people that God’s on their side (‘the year of the Lord’s favour’).
God help us (literally) if we ever fail to notice differences like that and fail to act in the way that Jesus would.
Be blessed, be a blessing.