“Do not judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes.”
To most of us, this phrase has become quite meaningless and has even come to sound contrived.
Despite the hundreds of times I have heard it, for me, it somehow still holds meaning, and the reason for this is from time to time strongly reaffirmed.
I had one such experience only a few days ago while I was at a good friend’s birthday party. I hesitated to go to this party at first, since I had an early flight to New York the next morning to attend my grandfather’s funeral.
I decided to go because my friends mean a great deal to me, and I figured it would help me to forget about my distraught disposition.
When most females attend a party of some sort, I can say fairly confidently that we enjoy dressing up a bit. Some will wear their favorite top, flattering jeans and maybe some high heels. I decided to wear a strapless dress that I have not had much opportunity to wear since I bought it. The occasion was never right.
A friend told me how much she loved the dress, which I really appreciated because frankly, I really liked it too.
But there were some girls at the party who apparently did not agree. These girls looked at me as though I was selling myself on a street corner, and they made no attempt to hide their feelings.
They even went as far as to talk about me right in front of my face (thinking that they were being sly enough that I would not realize they were speaking of me).
I have never understood why people treat others this way. There is no way these women could have known that my grandfather had passed away just the day before. There is no way they could have known that I was already an emotional wreck. But would their knowledge of this really have changed their actions? Maybe. Would it have changed their feelings? Probably not.
The way I was raised taught me to treat others with respect, even if I do not necessarily like someone.
It seems like common sense to treat people well, but some act as though they are above others and do not have to abide by these same standards.
Our society has come to accept discourtesy toward others as the norm, and there is something very wrong with this.
After spending four days in New York honoring the life of my grandfather with my extended family and hearing stories about his life, I have been quite inspired.
Although he was old-fashioned, he lived his life with an acceptance toward others that is difficult to find in people even today.
Though I have tried to live most of my life respecting others, I know that I have faltered from time to time; however, I still do not treat people the way I was treated just a few days ago.
People need to stop being so selfish, naïve and ignorant and open their eyes. There is so much to learn, and there are so many different types of people and cultures and religions.
My grandfather intently studied these people, cultures and religions and had such a thirst for learning everything he could about each.
Although he was a devout Christian, he studied and accepted different religions and never attempted to push his beliefs onto others.
I learned from him that it is not our place to judge others, because we cannot do so without ignorance unless we understand them.
The simple quote at the beginning of my editorial has gained so much power for me over the past week. I simply wish that others (very much including the girls at the party) would take this seemingly meaningless quote to heart and live by it.
We have so much wisdom to gain through other people that we will never know if we live ignorantly. So even though the event at the party upset me, I have realized that I will live so much more richly than anyone who feels it is okay to treat others the way that I was treated that night.
My grandfather kept a journal of quotes and sayings he heard throughout his life that had meaning to him.
There is a prayer in this journal that stands out to me above everything else and is one that everyone should strive to live by:
“Dear Lord, give me the wisdom to pursue the Truth, and spare me the company of people who think that they have found it.”