Pretty sure the first time I heard “Walk in another’s shoes” it was mocassins, not shoes, and the words were attributed to an American Indian. As I recall the quote suggested one person has little or no hope of comprehending what another person must do to get through life without some equivalent life experience.
And so when I come across a particular written exposition of another’s experience, even though the piece comes from a work of fiction, I’m compelled to stop and think that experience through, try to imagine what I might have done, how I might have reacted, had it been me in those shoes.
And don’t stop here because what follows is fiction. After all, French Philosopher Albert Camus observed that; “Fiction is the lie through which we tell the truth.”
Here’s a recent example, from “The Assassin,” by Andrew Britton, pp. 51-52, Kensington Books, 2007.
The character quoted is Rashid al-Umari, son of a wealthy Sunni Iraqi power broker. Here is what he thinks of the war against terrorism in Iraq. Walk in his shoes for a moment:
“It was so typical, Rashid thought bitterly. History always repeated itself; the greatest of empires were also the greediest. After all, what separated the current American government from the British imperialists of the twentieth century? The answer was simple: nothing. In the end, the only real objective was to enrich the invading country, and no matter what the Americans said, their intent was not benevolent. One only had to look at the Western contractors pouring into the region to see that.”
And he walked in those shoes some time around 2005, just 2 years or so after the start of the war in Iraq. And that was 14 years ago…..