This I Believe

Katherine - Greenville, North Carolina
Entered on October 2, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: golden rule

I believe in never judging someone until you have walked a day in their shoes. Obviously this is impossible, and never judging anyone seems inhuman. This is something my Mom use to say to me if ever I made comments about a random stranger walking down the street while we were in the car at a stop sign for example. I do not speak this belief in a way that refers to religion, but because we have each had some struggle to face in life. Some people’s struggles may seem obsolete compared to another’s, but not any less painful to that person.

I have friends who each have their own personality. I have your typical snobby friend, your very kind hearted friend, your promiscuous friend, your free spirited friend, and your hard headed over powering friend. If ever around them you may judge them, but what if I told you one has ovarian cancer, one has no family, and one has been very wrongly mistreated by most male figures throughout her life. Would you then feel like a bad person, try to drown your thoughts and tell yourself you did not mean what you said about each of these people.

Not only did my Mom’s words have a huge effect on me, but I have lived a life within a family who never could pass a towns judgment. My father recently died seven months ago because of a cocaine addiction. I never could quite understand the rumors, until this past Christmas, he then passed that January. The drug had affected his heart so greatly that he had a heart attack, followed by a stroke in the hospital. I then watched the toughest man I had ever met, who always had a horrible temper causing me to avoid him most of my life, finally become weak. It was as if all that had been happening came back to slap him and everyone around him right in the face. I watched him suffer for four straight days, stared into his empty eyes for hours at a time just wondering why. Why him, why me, why my family. He had a very hard childhood, and that is where most of my blame is placed. I hear my Mom’s words in my head over and over. I never understood my dad and judged him harshly. Since everything has happened I have come to realize many things and even understand him. I will never understand the drug use itself, but understand now that people addicted to drugs are not entirely to blame. It is a vicious addiction and cycle.

I have friends who constantly point out how “nice” I am. I may not take up for myself or speak my mind most of the time, but I think that is because most people do enough of that for everyone. I hear people put others down, and talk unkindly about them. To this day I sometimes have to catch my breathe, swallow that lump in my throat and know that not everyone can understand. I also would never expect anyone to understand why I feel such a reaction. I have become someone who feels pain for just about anyone who seems to need it.

I may not be the best person in this world, and maybe my life has dealt me some unfair cards, but it has brought about a great quality in me that I wish it could in everyone. I now have the ability to find something good in just about everybody. Take a second and think, is there a day in your past you wish you could have passed your shoes to someone specific and dared them to take a walk?