Long ago when I was still a student at Mt. Carmel High School a priest took a group of us outside on a pleasant spring day. As we sat on a set of bleachers he spoke of a native American idiom, “Walk a mile in my shoes.” He wanted us to consider the other person’s point of view before drawing conclusions and judging. He hoped to develop a sense of empathy in us by setting forth various scenarios and asking us how we thought we would react if confronted with similar situations. What we learned on that day is that we each view life just a bit differently depending on our backgrounds and personalities. Still we share certain commonalities as humans regardless of where we may live. Every human being seeks love, understanding, security, and comfort. We may not have much in common with people from other cultures but when stripped of our economic and superficial differences we all experience hunger, pain, and fear.
We come into this world so pure and innocent. We are like blank slates just waiting to be molded and educated in the ways of the world. If we are particularly lucky, as I have been, we will be surrounded from our first days by love and encouragement. We will enjoy the freedom and opportunity to become whomever we so choose to be. Not everyone is so blessed and therein lie the differences that make it sometimes difficult to understand one another. Over time we are the sum total of our genetics and our experiences. By the simple accident of being born in the United States of America we have a very good chance of living a far more comfortable life than many of our brothers and sisters who share this planet with us. From day to day we may grumble about our bad luck but in the still of the night most of us have to admit that ours is a pretty good life after all. Continue reading “Walk a Mile in My Shoes”