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Entry from May 05, 2015
“Before you judge someone, walk a mile in his shoes”

"Before you judge someone, walk a mile in his/her shoes” is a saying that means one should consider another’s situation before applying criticism. According to the website AAANativeArts.com, the saying is from the 1895 poem “Walk a Mile in His Moccasins” (originally titled “Judge Softly") by Mary Torrans Lathrap (1838-1895). The Poems and Written Addresses of Mary T. Lathrap (1895) does not contain the poem. The poem contains these lines:

Pray, don’t find fault with the man that limps,
Or stumbles along the road.
Unless you have worn the moccasins he wears,
Or stumbled beneath the same load.

(...)
Take the time to walk a mile in his moccasins.

Dr. Earl A. Bates of Cornell University was an expert on Indian affairs and repeated the “moccasins” proverb in the 1920s and 1930s.

“Shoes” replaced “moccasins” by the 1950s. “Don’t find fault with any man until you have walked a mile in his shoes” was cited in 1954. “Be honest, you haven’t even walked a mile in your own shoes!” is a modern jocular variation on the proverb.


AAANativeArts.com
Walk a Mile in His Moccasins
The Walk a Mile in His Moccasins quote is often contributed to various indian tribes, but it actually comes from a poem written by Mary T. Lathrap in 1895. The original title was Judge Softly. Here is the complete poem.

Pray, don’t find fault with the man that limps,
Or stumbles along the road.
Unless you have worn the moccasins he wears,
Or stumbled beneath the same load.
(...)
Brother, there but for the grace of God go you and I.
Just for a moment, slip into his mind and traditions
And see the world through his spirit and eyes
Before you cast a stone or falsely judge his conditions.

Remember to walk a mile in his moccasins
And remember the lessons of humanity taught to you by your elders.
We will be known forever by the tracks we leave
In other people’s lives, our kindnesses and generosity.

Take the time to walk a mile in his moccasins.

Old Fulton NY Post Cards
12 November 1927, Utica (NY) Daily Press, “Talk on Indians Marks Booneville P.T.A. Meet,” pg. 18, col. 4:
One of the Indian maxims, “Never to criticize the other boy or girl until you have walked a mile in their moccasins,” might well be used as a standard today, he (Earl Bates of Cornell University—ed.) said.

Old Fulton NY Post Cards
30 July 1928, Jamestown (NY) Evening Journal, “Review History of Red Man in Indian Lore Day Celebration of Bemus Pt. Community Club,” pg. 18, col. 5:
“Never criticize the other boy or girl unless you have walked a mile in his moccasins,” is an Indian saying which Dr. Bates (Dr. Earl A. Bates of Cornell University—ed.) recommended to all in the belief that it would solve 95 percent of all difficulties.

10 October 1930, The World-Herald (Omaha, NE), “Women Pick Fremont for 1931 Meeting” (AP), pg. 19, col. 1:
In its attitude toward Indian affairs, the American nation, he (Dr. E. A. Bates of Cornell University—ed.) said, would do well to think of the Indian maxim, “never criticize the other boy or girl unless you have walked a mile in his moccasins.”

19 September 1954, Florence (SC) Morning News, “Judge Each Man By Limitations” (editorial), pg. 4-A, col. 1:
It could be best considered in the light of modern language—it says: “Don’t find fault with any man until you have walked a mile in his shoes.”

22 February 1959, Dallas (TX) Morning News, “Letters From Readers,” sec. 5, pg. 8, col. 3:
An old proverb says, “To try to understand a man, walk a mile in his shoes.”
(Letter from Paul Randolph of Dallas.—ed.)

OCLC WorldCat record
A mile in their shoes : the oral histories of three veterans of the Vietnam War
Author: Dennis Daryl Baughman; Harry L Gross; Howard L Adler; Richard David Wissolik
Publisher: Latrobe, Pa. : Saint Vincent College, Center for Northern Appalachian Studies, 1995.
Series: Joe and Henny Heisel series, 2.
Edition/Format: Print book : Biography : English

OCLC WorldCat record
Walking a mile in their shoes… Symbolic interactionism for families living with severe mental illness.
Author: J Saunders Affiliation: School of Nursing, Georgia State University, Atlanta, USA.
Edition/Format: Article Article : English
Publication: Journal of psychosocial nursing and mental health services, 1997 Jun; 35(6): 8-13
Database: From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
Other Databases: British Library Serials; ArticleFirst

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityWork/Businesses • Tuesday, May 05, 2015 • Permalink


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