I have always loved both the original book and the movie version of To Kill a Mockingbird (the latter of which has the additional advantage of some wonderful music). Atticus Finch, who puts himself and his children at risk by defending a black man accused of raping a white woman in Alabama, is a herioc figure, a man of integrity, courage and wisdom.
I watched the movie again the other night, for the first time in a long while. There is wisdom in many of Atticus’ comments to his children, but the one that stood out for me this time around is the line that “you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them.”
At one level this may suggest we can never really understand what someone else is going through if we haven’t been in their situation. But at a different level, it gives us some aid in being able to understand others a bit better. We tend to look at the situation of others through our own experiential lens. But, if before judging another’s position, action or words, we put ourselves in their shoes and look at the situation from their standpoint, we might judge less harshly. We might still disagree with what another holds, says or does, but we just might be a little more understanding and a little less critical in our judgments.