Shoes! When did shoes become the go-to destination for journeys to nirvana? When did well-appointed heels turn cads into princes and transform us plain girls to ‘sex-y in the city’? Or has footwear always been as important to fashion as the saying: ‘Don’t judge me until you’ve walked a mile in my shoes’ has been to identity and peace?
Does our penchant for buying shoes, amassing Imelda Marcos or Carrie Bradshaw sized collections speak to our need to understand others? Do new shoes provide the potential and ability to walk that mile to understanding?
My footwear reflects my soul and mirrors my identity. My journeys are on
foot and I’ve learned the hard way that Jimmy Choos and Manolo Blahnik’s derail my joy into train wrecks.
Footwear can define identity, and, is just as complicated. I recently told a dear friend, ‘we may wear the same size, but we like and wear very different shoes – literally and figuratively’.
It can be hard to understand someone you love. Someone whose footwear appears interchangeable with your own. Different styles, different
toes add difficulty relating to the owner of the heart-pumping-blood to those other toes. As a species focusing on souls, rather than soles, and the miles journeyed, can surely help promote listening, peace and, understanding identity.
Swapping metaphoric ‘shoes’: Would any genocide occur if perpetrators imagined themselves, or their mothers, or wives, or children as victims? Would they say ‘NO’ to crimes of hate?
Empathy, the ability to put yourself into someone else’s shoes, to listen for identity without bias or judgement. This must be a key to peace as I wrote about in my recent post ‘Peace Requires Listening’.
Daniel Lubetzky,CEO of Kind Bars and PeaceWorks remarked (one of) the key to Palestinian-Israeli peace is for Israeli’s to listen to Palestinian needs. I think a shoe swap and long survival hike might help.
I’ve often found empathy, along with blisters, after finding myself on a path with someone I’ve judged (health). ‘Blisters’ force me to slow down, open my eyes, acknowledge the pain.
It’s painful to listen if we are not sure of our identity, or we are not on firm footing ourselves. In Vilna, Lithuania (‘Dinner in Vilna’), Lilly said she was unhappy before she focused her identity and connected with Judaism. Some say shoe shopping, especially during a sale, is a religious experience. There are other ways to worship.
Empathy. Walking that metaphoric mile. Several years ago, I discovered
the cure. A pill. A shoe-shaped empathy pill. Mid-judgement, mid-hate action, a quick pill pop would change everything with, ‘Here, walk a mile in my shoes. Have an empathy pill.’
As soon as a pharmaceutical company gets back to me, I’ll take your orders.
In the meantime, how has a pair of shoes helped you understand others, or, shaped or defined your identity?
What leg of your journey has developed your empathy?
Please, share your thoughts and also let me know how you came to read this post!