It’s hard to believe that May 24th has come and gone with the chilly weather we are having during the month of June. 

Yes indeed, the sun has crossed the line and we in Bermuda can now safely go swimming! 

I know many of you growing up in Bermuda have heard that expression from our parents about not being able to go swimming until the sun has crossed the ‘line’ and that line was always crossed on May 24th. 

Hmm, what line I always wondered and why was it May 24th that it magically and faithfully always crossed the ‘line’?  

I do remember wanting to question and debate it, but thought I better not, fearing that I may be crossing yet another kind of mystical yet powerful line.

Anyway, I do believe the meaning is simple — the elders believed that it simply was not hot enough to go swimming and therefore, if you went before the 24th of May, when the sun somehow crossed the line, that you would catch a horrible and life-threatening cold. 

We all know that this is not fact and that one can go swimming in the dead of winter and stay healthy, but old beliefs are hard to die and so live on and on. 

Wrong-headed

Perception is really a challenging affair, because it is really the beliefs and not the facts; perception is the way you think about or understand someone or something — so perception is a deeply personal thing; however, many perceptions are wrongly considered to be true and this is where the danger lies.

Should we continue to view and build our world and our lives on perceptions — we will never climb free of the sad state of affairs we find ourselves in; indeed, most of the ills of the world are built and therefore operated on false perceptions.  

We must dispel perceptions and act on truth — truth is fact and fact is what will withstand perception. 

One of the dangers of perception is generalizing. We tend to generalize about so many things and one thing that unfortunately we do is generalize people, especially when it comes to their religion. 

Muslims are great examples of generalization and untrue perceptions. I remember once working with an expat who had just arrived on the island. I was assigned to assist her. 

Time had passed and later she revealed that when she first met me she was concerned and almost ‘afraid’ because she had heard so many negative things about Muslims and especially ‘black’ Muslims — but to her surprise I was not at all like what she had heard of Muslims and especially ‘black’ ones!  

Dispelling a myth

She had come to like and respect me. Indeed, I was touched and happy that I had dispelled, simply through my interactions with her — that I was a normal, caring loving person, even thought I was black and Muslim! 

The Quran speaks about discerning truth from perception in Surah al-Anfäl 8:29 “O you who have attained to faith! If you remain conscious of God, He will endow you with a standard by which to discern the true from the false, and will clear evil from you, and will forgive you your mistakes: for God is limitless in the abundance of His blessing.”

Allah says that the signs and answers are there for those who reflect and we must reflect and use our intelligence to discern all things and act on what is truth — because no matter what, truth will reign over falsehood and will set us free. Ameen.