“I thought I knew every Elvis song there was,” my sister wrote the other day. But she had heard one that was new to her, although it was the choir at her church that was singing it.

The song was “Walk a Mile in My Shoes,” and the chorus goes, “Walk a mile in my shoes. Walk a mile in my shoes. Before you abuse, criticize and accuse, walk a mile in my shoes.”

This isn’t a new idea, and it wasn’t a new idea when Elvis sang about it in 1970. I’m sure we’re all familiar with the old adage, “Never judge someone until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes.”

I think that’s good advice for all of us, especially with the social-media-and-sound-bite-society we live in today. Many of us – and I include myself in this – can be taken in by something we see, read, or hear, without knowing all the details. We can form judgments quickly without knowing the full story, let alone the story from the perspective of the person we’re judging, or the background of the situation.

It’s hard to walk in someone else’s shoes without knowing where they’ve been, or what the road was like for them. We can try to learn about it before making any judgments, but many of us would probably consider that to be too time-consuming and too much work. A better idea might be to discipline ourselves to avoid making judgments when we get just a quick glimpse of someone or something. But I suspect this would also be considered too time-consuming and too much work.

Perhaps it would be more achievable for us to simply train ourselves to repeat the refrain from the Elvis song whenever we need to remind ourselves that if we don’t know the whole story, if we don’t know what trials and tribulations another person has faced, we should refrain from abusing, criticizing, or accusing them. I think that would stop most of us in our tracks – which reminds me of another famous quote, one that is often attributed to Abraham Lincoln. It’s not exactly the same sentiment, but it’s somewhat related: “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.”

Maybe Elvis should have sung about that, too.

September 28, 2019
©Betty Liedtke, 2019

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