Walk a Mile in My Moccasins
Being of Native American heritage (and it being Rock Your Mocs Day), I use in my title a native saying that represents an interesting idea. Although quite obvious to some, it means that one should try and imagine placing themselves in someone else’s shoes to get a good accurate view of that person’s life in hope to bring understanding of that person. Another way of looking at this idea is to simply say, "view with compassion.
But what is compassion and why should we have it? Compassion explained in the dictionary is , “pity aroused by the distress of others, with a desire to help”, and pity is described as , “feelings of sympathy for the sufferings of others”
I think many of us do at least have feelings of gratitude with what has been given to us, no matter how grim our own lives can be at times. That internal mantra of, “I am grateful for what I have, as life could be far worse for me”, shows that we are aware that life is not perfect, and that many suffer way beyond ourselves.
How is it that we can judge another man’s child if they are behaving inappropriately, yet we give our own children a million chances to do better? You will say, and I have to agree, that this is the role of the parent – one of unconditional love. But can we not have compassion for another's child or troubled teen – an unconditional love for all? Does it not indeed take a whole village to raise a child?
Can we be compassionate to the man in the street looking for spare change to buy some food? It may not even be food he needs or wants for his happiness, but at least he has the courage to be out there begging for it.
There may be a family living down the street from you and their son or daughter may have just gone to prison for a felony. Do we now judge this family? Treat them differently, even if perhaps they were upstanding citizens until this situation arose? IF a child of yours commits murder would you still love them?
The ugly person is judged, yet so is the beautiful. And we judge based on sex, job status, attire, sexual persuasion, and more. We speculate and assume what life may be like for others, but until we walk in their shoes, we will never know their pain, or their joy.
My ten year old came to me to ask why some of her teachers were mean. I explained to her that they weren’t mean; they simply may have been having a bad day. IF days pass and she repeatedly tells me about these same teachers we then try and find compassion for their manner or unhappiness – easier than just saying, “Mr. X must be just plain mean and miserable”…because we know that Mr. X is known also to smile and be nice; but more importantly he is just like us – human.
" It is our compassion that reminds us of the interconnectedness of all living beings and inspires us to take action when we see others suffering. ...compassion reminds us that there is a wide world beyond our own physical borders, populated by individuals who are valuable and vital. When we feel compassion, we respond by giving the support and aid we are capable of bestowing upon those in need of our care. It wakens our hearts to the fact that the entities with whom we share the planet feel pain as we do, and it lies at the root of all charitable acts—even those seemingly fueled by selfish motivations."
So next time someone turns your nose, pisses you off, cuts you off, upsets your morning news read, remember gratitude and compassion, and do as Jesus, Buddha or Gandhi would do
And as Albert Einstein once said,
“A human being is a part of the whole called by us Universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.
Still not getting it? Better to then walk a mile in someone else's flip flops.I mean moccasins!
(This article was originally written in January 2007 when I lived in Grand Bahama)