Can you really understand me after walking a 1.60 kilometres (one mile) in my shoes?
When I was a child my parents said you shouldn't judge someone until you have walked a mile in their shoes. This prompted questions, what if they don't have shoes, what if their shoes are too big or too small for me? I used to look at people's shoes and wonder what it would be like to wear big clown shoes or dainty ballerina shoes.
As I grew older I understood the metaphor but have wondered how much understanding and empathy we get when walk in another's shoes.
Lately there have been reality TV shows and fundraising challenges that involve trying to understand another's plight. There is a television show where rich people spend ten days living like a homeless person. I think while these programs give people a chance to see how other people experience life, do people really know what being homeless is like after one night spent outside or 7 days on the street. Reality programs rarely have anything to do with reality. For a rich person to spend 7 days roughing it, when they know they will soon be home in their mansion with indoor heating a heated pool and housekeepers.
These experiences may give us some insights but that is all.
People have said to me they know all about bipolar because a close relative/ friend has bipolar.
There was a week challenge for fundraising where people had to eat the rations given to united nations refugees for one week. A woman told me she now knew what it was like to feel hunger and she understood what the refugees experienced. In one week, is it possible to know what a person living on these rations really feels and experiences?
I am now rethinking how useful is the statement walk a mile in my shoes.
Is it arrogant or even patronising to think we can know what another person's experiences in a short time?
Do you think that is possible to walk a mile in someone's shoes to understand them?
Or does it take much more than a mile or a realty tv show to really empathise with another human?
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