This week, I had the opportunity to attend CABA which is an autism conference for my work. My favorite part of the conference was listening to talks from amazing women who are mothers of children with autism. These woman were at the forefront of fighting for services for their children. They gave up successful careers to take care of their families. The most heartbreaking part of their stories wasn’t the fact that they gave up their careers, have dealt with daily tantrum behavior, aren’t able to go out to eat and vacation like the rest of us, the lack of sleep, or even what it feels like to have therapists in their home daily. The most heartbreaking part of their stories is when they share the reaction from the community. The hurtful quotes that people have said to them and the lack of support shown by neighbors, friends, and family was shocking. Despite these difficult situations, these woman have great lives and love their families. One of the moms shared this poem and I wanted to share it with you.
The poem Walk a Mile in His Moccasins was written by Mary T. Lathrap in 1895. The original title was Judge Softly. Here is the original poem.
Pray, 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.