We say “if you could only walk a mile in another’s shoes”
but frankly –
most likely those shoes will not fit. Right?
I am a sucker for metaphors, symbolism, idioms, even a hyperbole or two.
As a mother, I find this phrase to be a beautiful springboard for conversations that lead to a better understanding of our neighbors and the nurturing of empathy, which I believe to be one of the most important responsibilities for me as a parent.
The heart of a child is open and receptive to the active experience of imagining walking a mile in another’s shoes,
or, as Atticus in To Kill A Mockingbird so eloquently states,
“to climb into someone else’s skin and walk around in it”.
Over the past couple of weeks, we in the U.S. have witnessed quite a few historical moments.
Social media has allowed us the privilege and the horror of knowing how every person feels about each of those moments.
I do not want to grow out of empathy.
I do not want to see another’s shoes and logically know that my feet won’t fit in them, nor will they be comfortable due to my need for arch support, nor does that particular style look good on me, and
Because as adults – I think this is what we do.
We rationalize our way right out of empathy.
We choose to be right and then spend our emotional energy seeking out others who share our same rightness.
As adults, we have replaced courage with bravado.
We have replaced empathy and compassion with judgment and “right-ness”.
When did we start believing the lie that loving our neighbor makes us soft?
We do not even look at another’s shoes, let alone consider trying them on.
We’re too busy polishing our own shoes.
Or seeking out others to polish them for us.
And I believe it is chipping away at our relationships with one another, and by extension, our communities – our Villages.
I do not have the answer, but I do have a suggestion.
Don’t dismiss each other’s metaphorical shoes.
Put them on.
Walk a mile.
Learn and grow.
Share and listen.
Allow yourself to be vulnerable enough so that it becomes personal.