Sunday, July 19, 2015

Walking in another's Moccasins

All my life I've heard the old saying about not judging another person until you've walked a mile in their shoes.  It's taken me many decades to realize the truth of that wise saying.  I also recently learned the true origin of that old saying.  It comes from a poem by Mary T. Lathrap, "Judge Softly," written way back in 1895.  Here's one of the verses of that poem:

Just walk a mile in his moccasins
Before you abuse, criticize and accuse.
If just for one hour, you could find a way
To see through his eyes, instead of your own muse.
 It's so true!  It goes along with the Bible verse, "Judge not that you be not judged," Matthew 7:1, but also has a connotation beyond that of simply judging a person's behavior.  I've been struck by not realizing how I'm going to feel about a situation until it happens, and when it does, I'm sometimes stunned by my reaction to the happening.  I may have imagined a totally different reaction before the situation actually happened.  Have you ever done that?

The truth of that kind of goes along with not judging the behavior of another person.  For instance, a friend might lose a spouse and a year later the person is still grieving.  We might think it's time to get a grip and move on, but until we've been through that same loss, we can't know what it's going to feel like.  We might imagine what it feels like, but could be totally stunned at the feelings we would experience should such a loss befall us.

So -- just as Mary Lathrap entitled her poem, we should "judge softly" when we observe other people and their reactions to events.  Perhaps we should be more liberal with our patience and sympathy -- and attempt more understanding when people don't respond to a situation as we expect they should.  You never know, the next time, the moccasin (or shoe) might be on the other foot.

-Photo:  I took the picture of these beautiful, beaded Indian moccasins in a museum in Medora, ND.


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