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Where did that phrase come from - Walk a mile in their shoes
Stan St. Clair

Today it is more popular than ever to berate those with whom we don’t agree. But this practice only makes others angry; it does nothing to change their minds. 

There is certainly a lot of malice in our country because we are fighting an enemy which we can’t see or even agree as to its origin. But trying to unite in our nation is more important than ever. We all are affected in one way or another.

The premise of this proverb is that no one should judge or criticize another person until they have experienced what that person has been through. Modern American comedian Jack Handley said, “Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you criticize them, you are a mile away from them and you have their shoes.” This is one of the top American proverbs quoted; the credit need not go to Handley, though.

Harper Lee also used a similar phrase in “To Kill a Mockingbird,” 1960, when the main character, Atticus Finch, said to his daughter, “Don’t judge a man until you’ve got inside his skin and walked around in it.”

The saying is actually from an old Native American prayer:

“Great Spirit — Grant that I may not criticize my neighbor until I have walked a mile in his moccasins.”

Hearsay among Western Native Americans attributes the prayer to Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce Indians who was born Hinmatóowyalahtq’it in Wallowa Valley, Oregon, and died at Colville Indian Reservation in Washington (1840-1904).

Be kind, be respectful of others, and stay safe and maybe you can pass along a decent “pair of shoes” to your posterity.

If you would like to know the origin of a favorite expression, text the author at 931-212-3303 or email him at