Snowy tree lined road in winter

To Walk a Mile…Thoughts on Being Kind

Who of my readers grew up alongside me in the good old 1990s? Those of you who did probably remember a movie called “A Few Good Men” starring Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson.

It’s a funny thing that what I remember from the movie is in the closing scenes when Jack is on trial and Tom is interrogating him. Jack eventually breaks down and states “you can’t handle the truth!”

Then, if my memory serves me, he goes on to tell about his job, and the trials and tribulations that go along with it. Thereby confessing to the crime as well. If you’re wondering how this can possibly be related to “thoughts on being kind”, read on!

I always found myself relating, not to the golden boy of the movie Tom, but to the Jack Nicholson character. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think Jack’s character was right to cover up an unintentional homicide.

Why I tended to relate to the Jack character was because I agreed with his point. Tom definitely didn’t know what it was like to walk a mile in the day-to-day that was “his shoes.”

Maybe not quite the best example to illustrate my upcoming point, but I did always love the line “you can’t handle the truth!”

Just about everyone has heard the saying “Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.” Well, I originally thought this was an inspirational line taken from a bible passage.

It turns out it’s a thought-provoking poem by Mary T. Lathrap written in 1895 titled “Judge Softly.” You can look it up to read the entire poem, but the first few stanzas go like this.

“Pray don’t find fault with the man that limps, or stumbles along the road. Unless you have worn the moccasins he wears or stumbled beneath the same load.”

“There may be tears in his soles that hurt, though hidden away from view. The burden he bears placed on your back may cause you to stumble and fall, too.”

“Don’t sneer at the man who is down today unless you have felt the same blow. That caused his fall or felt the shame that only the fallen know.”

The poem concludes with the lines…

“We will be known forever by the tracks we leave in other people’s lives, our kindnesses, and generosity. Take the time to walk a mile in his moccasins.”

Each of us during our lives has had different experiences and upbringings which shape us and how we respond to situations that life throws at us. And sometimes these situations cause us to stumble and fall, act irrationally, or say things that we wouldn’t normally say.

So next time you encounter a person who you don’t feel is acting appropriately take the time to stop and think about Mary’s poem. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes, even if it’s just for a moment. Try to see things from their perspective, and give a little grace.

The poem really contains some great words to live by. But boy, not easy to abide by each and every day.

It’s sure an important thing to think about when you’re talking to a friend going through a rough time. When you see an interesting character walking down the street who may be down on his luck.

Or, and this is a tough one, your kid is picked on by a bully at school – who knows what that child has gone through or what his “day-to-day” life may be?

Take just a moment to stop and remember the words from Mary’s poem. Judge softly, as Mary would say, and be kind.

The bible has a passage that displays a similar message. “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw the stone at her.”

During these days everyone seems to be at odds with one another and times are stressful. Both this passage and Mary’s poem seem more important than ever.

Sure is something to think about before judging others. And if not, maybe you’re the one that can’t handle the truth.

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