Have you ever heard the adage, “Walk a mile in my shoes.”? It’s an oldie but goodie that means to remind us that ours isn’t the only perspective and that we really need to see things from where others are “standing.”
That was a hard one for me in my earlier years For some reason, I thought everyone saw things the same way I did. That wasn’t from anything I learned from my parents or even from school. I just thought everyone was seeing and experiencing what I was seeing and experiencing. I have no idea where that came from – maybe a past life?
What a wake-up call I got when I began to realize that we may all be walking through the same world, in the same time frame, but we certainly weren’t experiencing the same things and, because of that, when we did/do experience the same situation, even at the same moment, we could actually see things so differently that it was like we were/are experiencing totally different events.
My folks were pretty accepting of people. They cared more about whether you were a good person that what color your skin was, what religion you belonged to, what your political views were, or even what you did for a living. I think because of that I had a hint that it mattered what was inside a person, who they truly were, rather than what they looked like or any of the outer trappings that people can be judged by.
I think that’s why, even at an early age, I was bothered by the history of Man’s inhumanity to Man. I was about 12 or 13 when I read The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich and was horrified by it and books I read about concentration camps like Auschwitz. Coming from German heritage, it made me ashamed of having German roots. How could we treat each other like that? I still have moments of embarrassment about that, especially when I see other groups of people being treated horribly.
Let me take this discussion into the “Twilight Zone” for a moment and tell you about the confusion, dismay, and even horror I felt, as a child, when I saw humanity’s reaction to space aliens in the movie, The Day the Earth Stood Still and others like it. Why did we assume they came here to do us harm? Was it because they were different? Was it because humans feared that which they didn’t understand, before even trying to understand? I would love to meet extraterrestrials and talk to them and learn what they have experienced. So many would rather shoot first and ask questions later – assuming there were any of us or them left after that confrontation.
It seems to be a pattern that’s been repeated since time began for us, to fear rather than try to understand. Time and effort won’t even be taken, in many instances, to look at things from another person’s perspective; to see Life through their eyes for just a moment or two; to stand in their shoes and see what they see. I don’t understand that.
I will grant you, it took me a wile to learn to stand in another’s shoes and try to see things as they saw them. It does take effort and it does mean you have to lay aside your own preconceived ideas in order to metaphorically step out of your own “shoes” and into those of another. The wisdom and insight that can be gained about Life and even yourself is invaluable. It opens up your mind to infinite possibilities and ways of thinking.
One thing I have learned, after all these years, is that it seems to be easier to remain closed minded, and therefore ignorant, allowing fear to run your life than it is to make the effort to understand the life others are living and what perspective that gives them that differs from yours. I’ve learned that mankind finds it easier to do “evil” than do good. A sad state of affairs for the human race.
Out of this, I also ask myself often, “Were we not all created by the same Source?” If God, the Creator of all-that-is, created us, this planet, the plants and animals, why do we not see that we are connected? Why do we not understand that we are all equal in the eyes of “God”? Why do we continue to fear those who are different than we are and find that as a basis to persecute them?
We’ve gotten so good at it that we now even persecute people for their choices in life – who to vote for, ones stance on abortion, whether to take the Covid shot or not, who to love, etc. It’s not solely a question of your race or religion anymore. You can be feared and persecuted for almost anything anymore. How much fear (and hate) will it take before we wake up?
If we were given “free will” by our Creator, why is it that we humans feel the need, from fear, to take that right away from each other? Does fear only disappear when we are all the same? I’m sure the Creator would be very disappointed that we humans feel we know better than He/She/It what is a perfect creation? Diversity provides for continuation of Life. Uniformity provides stagnation and death. Seems pretty obvious (to me at least) that the fear humanity holds, for anything or anyone different, is causing us to create our own suicide where Life is concerned.
As long as we choose fear over understanding, there will be no peace on this planet and we will continue to condemn and persecute each other to the point of extermination – first of that which is different and then of ourselves. All it take is setting fear aside and taking the time to understand…to stand in the shoes of those who are different and see Life from their perspective. Is that so much to ask for the continuation of human life on Earth?