Walk A Mile In His Moccasins

The old saying “take the time to walk a mile in his moccasins” couldn’t apply more than to those who deal with mental health issues. The phrase comes for a poem written by Mary T. Lathrap in 1895. Fast forward to the 21st century, and not that much has changed. My hometown, Kokomo, is blessed with an organization supporting homeless women and children called Walk A Mile.

You don’t notice stuff like this, until you or someone you love encounters a need.  Three situations bring this need especially close to home for me when it comes to mental health care.

My dad passed away a number of years ago. All of my memories of him are of a man tortured by paranoid schizophrenia. He was a very good man that was often choked down with an illness he didn’t understand or know how to cope with. My late brother-in-law dealt with debilitating Manic Depression as well until cancer stole his life, way too early. I cannot adequately express how crucial appropriate mental care was for either my dad or my brother-in-law.

My brother is one of the most gentle, genuine, and intelligent people I know. However, he deals with Manic Depression. My dad was difficult because he didn’t accept his issue, whereas my brother seeks help and this type of care is crucial.

Needless to say, I take notice of organization who serve those with this need. In my experience they are led by caring professionals working for a fraction of their value. They have passion for those society can easily forget or even ridicule.

My friends at MHA in Kokomo serve this need. Recently I was privileged to deliver a contribution to them on behalf of the employees of the company where I work:

I came to know Mental Health America many years ago when then as a minister, my church provided an annual Thanksgiving meal for 250 MHA clients and staff. I’ve moved on but Center Road Church of Christ continues the tradition today.

Perhaps you have life ambitions, just as I do. Regardless of that journey, let us always remember to Walk A Mile.

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. 

Judge Softly, poem by Mary T. Lathrap, 1895

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