A Walk in Someone Else’s Shoes

There’s a message that is getting lost in the media. The protests that are going on are not about trying to resist police officers, looting or starting trouble in neighborhoods but are about treating people equally. It’s been a long time coming in our nation. Never in my lifetime has this message been more important or profound as it is now. It’s a revolution; it’s a change that we need to make as a society. We have to change how we think and how our children think about the people around them. This message needs to remain clear, not on the distractions of riots and looting.

My heart goes out to my friends that talk of times that they have been judged as inadequate for no justifiable reason.

I have friends from all walks of life. I’ve been fortunate to live with and love many different people of various cultures, and to gain knowledge of their experiences and sometimes listen to their pain. I can’t walk a mile in their shoes, I can only walk in my shoes and listen to the people I’m walking with. It’s going to take everyone from all walks of life to stand up and make a decision on change.

I have a college friend, a great guy with the biggest heart in the world. He just posted 9 different instances in his life where he has been judged for being black and of a muscular build. As I read through his posts and the different situations he has dealt with, it left me so disappointed and sad at our world. Why should this amazing person have to worry about where he is driving or who he interacts with? It’s so disheartening that he should ever have to go through this anxiety. Worrying about if he makes a wrong move, which could mean the last time that he sees his family and friends?

I am a store manager at a retailer that has recently been looted. The last three days I’ve been anxiously scrolling through social media, checking to see if there will be another situation. I’ve had some time to reflect. I believe looting is not the answer. The people doing this don’t realize the effect they have on their communities, friends and family. Whether they work at the location or just love shopping there to put a smile on their face. Regardless, my anxiety will subside. As a white male, this was just a small amount of anxiety in comparison to my friends of color that feel persecuted for merely walking down a street. The company can repair broken glass and merchandise, but it moves on. How can we move past this as a society?

A person of color should not have fear of persecution as he walks the streets, ever. He shouldn’t have ingrained in his mind a fear of the police stopping him to find wrongdoing where there is none. He shouldn’t be afraid to live a life full of hopes, dreams and fantasies of who he can become and what he can do. Sadly, these thoughts are traveling quickly through many peoples heads and often cloud what’s important. There’s a prejudice in this nation that hits before the first word is even spoken between two human beings. It’s sad and disheartening, but there’s a cure.

What I’ve loved about travel and meeting new people is you get to experience and see things through others eyes. It’s amazing when you clear your mind and open yourself to their world/ culture. Whether you travel to Europe, Africa or Asia, there are so many experiences that you can’t even fathom without getting out there and experiencing them. I travel because I get that fortunate opportunity to learn.

In Athens, our taxi driver was extremely kind. We had a great conversation about their Greek culture and the unique streets of Athens. Finally finding our Airbnb, she dropped us off and we were on our way for the last day of our stay. A short while later, we had a ring at the door. Our taxi driver came back with food from a local restaurant that she had recommended. She wouldn’t take money, it was out of the kindness of her heart.

In Santorini, we met a lovely lady from Russia as we took to horseback riding on the beach. She had fled an abusive husband to make her way to Santorini and start out on her own. With a big F you, she stood tall and took control of her life. She was amazing to talk to on the trip and we finished the night off with a Greek cheers and a shot of ouzo.

In Dresden, we spoke with a man that grew up on the west side of Berlin when the city was divided. He spoke of visiting his cousins on the East side. One time (while speaking with their cousins) they noticed he was chewing gum. They politely asked if he had another piece, he said no. They then proceeded to ask if they could have the piece that he was chewing. The East was strict and limited their residents on personal possessions from the west. Gum was a luxury that not needed.

I could go on and on about the amazing people that have persevered through challenging times. We all have an amazing story, but it’s hard to read a book if you only look at the cover.

I think we all have to get outside our comfort zones at some point and acknowledge what’s happening. Also, to take a step and move in a different direction.

We all have different emotions we are feeling right now. Some feel angry, some feel sadness and their hearts are disturbed. Don’t ever let people make you feel that you need to feel a certain way. You decide how you feel about a situation. Educate yourself enough before you make any decision on how you react to something in front of you. How you react can make a huge difference in how someone else reacts. Lead with love and you’ll learn more about a person than you could ever imagine.

Change your perspective and make sure you lead with the golden rule of treating others how you would like to be treated. Once we get stressed or scared are the times that this message is more important than ever. Change takes time and pain, but it’s far worse to never change and grow at all. Love those around you, seek to understand before judging and we can move forward for the better of our human race. We are all in this great relay race together and we can’t win without learning how the other passes the baton.

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I've lived several places in the United States. Born in Michigan, lived several years of my life in Florida and currently in California. I was enticed with travel from an early age. I've traveled around most states in the US and have ventured across Europe. As my love of travel continues, my passion grows deeper with learning about new cultures and what makes them unique. Travel with me as I gather my thoughts on travel and experience the world through my lens.

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