Why should we walk a mile in someone else’s shoes?
From Woodstock To Eternity tries to address the ideology behind the peace and love movement in the 1960’s and ’70’s. The core principle revolved around the caution that if you didn’t really know what someone was going through, how they felt, the experiences they had, you could come to the wrong conclusion and judge them falsely. And by judging falsely, all of your subsequent perceptions of them would be false as well. Here is an excerpt from the book,
In 1970, Joe South wrote a song entitled, “Walk a Mile in My Shoes”, which defined the message that we should see, feel, and experience what someone is going through before we pass judgment on them. This is the reason thousands of young people who already had it made tried to look, feel and act like they didn’t have a thing in the world. They wanted to walk a mile in their shoes. They wanted to experience poverty when they weren’t poor. They grew their hair out so they could incur abuse for their shabby outward appearance, just like people who couldn’t help it did. They wouldn’t admit it, or put it that way, but that’s what it boiled down to.
Straight society would scorn them, avoid them, treat them like morally depraved, undesirable freaks. That’s what they looked like, anyway. They wore their freak badge proudly. They wanted to empathize with the downtrodden and join with them so they could experience the injustice. If enough people did this, they could transform society, break down the barriers between classes, and permanently alter the hierarchy of mankind.
How do you walk a mile in someone else’s shoes?
This is the harder question. While we may be willing to subject ourselves to someone else’s trials and tribulations, there are areas that others simply cannot go. A white man can never know what it is like to be black. A man can never really know what goes on in a woman’s mind. This has been proven over the course of human existence. But, it is nevertheless a noble effort to try. This is how Dustin Morgan approached it,
Morgan was already an attractive, normal looking young man. What would possess him to grow his hair out and intentionally make himself look unattractive? He was already in the middle class. What advantage could he gain by intentionally making himself look like a low class bum? He already had a home, so why would he want to make himself look homeless? He already had shoes. Why would he want to run around barefoot?
Some people just think it’s cool to be poor, downtrodden, and talk like a hick. There is a perception that people who don’t have anything are more real than people who do. Because they have no possessions, they have nothing to put on airs about, so they have no hypocrisy. And HYPOCRISY, of course, is the greatest evil of them all.
Because they are crude, and have no training in social graces, they also escape the phony, high falutin’, high society arrogance that high class people show. The high class looks down on the low class, because they think they are better than others, and we all know that no one is better than anybody else, and we are all equal in God’s sight. The low class looks down on the high class because they think they’re so dang high-falutin’. So the real people, the ones who tell it like it is, who have no hypocrisy, who have no airs, who really look at the inside and not on the outside are the uneducated, unsophisticated, down to earth good old boys.
The answer is in The Golden Rule
“Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” This is the way I learned it. The actual verse from the New King James Version says,
“just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.” Luke 6:31
And, perhaps the best known verse is the Second Great Commandment. Jesus said,
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself” Matt 22:37
Doesn’t this say it all? Imagine yourself suffering the treatment, dealing with the issue, making the decisions that the other is doing, and how you would react, before casting judgment on what they are doing. Simple… but so few do it. Listen to Jesus and do what He says, and we can all “permanently alter the hierarchy of mankind.”