The Walk a Mile in His Moccasins quote is often contributed to various Native American 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 in case you never read it:
|Painting by R.C. Gorman|
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.
There may be tears in his soles that hurt
Though hidden away from view.
The burden he bears placed on your back
May cause you to stumble and fall, too.
Don't sneer at the man who is down today
Unless you have felt the same blow
That caused his fall or felt the shame
That only the fallen know.
You may be strong, but still the blows
That were his, unknown to you in the same way,
May cause you to stagger and fall, too.
Don't be too harsh with the man that sins
Or pelt him with words, or stone, or disdain
Unless you are sure you have no sins of your own,
And it's only Wisdom and Love that your heart contains.
For you know, if the Tempter's voice
Should whisper as soft to you
As it did to him when he went astray,
It might cause you to falter, too.
Just walk a mile in his moccasins
Before you abuse, criticize and accuse
If just for one hour, you could find a way
To see through his eyes, instead of your own muse.
I believe you'd be surprised to see
That you've been blind and narrow-minded, even unkind.
There are people on reservations and in the ghettos
Who have so little hope, and too much worry on their minds.
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.
There is nothing else that needs to be said except this: As Disciples of Christ, to walk a mile in someone else's moccasins is to be more Christ-like because this is what Jesus Christ has done for us.
I bow my head.
Because of Him and Unto Him,