A Mile In Their Shoes

holey-shoesI feel extremely fortunate to have never been a refugee or immigrant. Neither have I ever had to rely on government welfare or disability.

I am increasingly amazed, however, at the amount and intensity of opinions of others who also have never had to experience such hardship. Such opinions include making the process harder and taking away assistance altogether. (This kind of ignorance gives me all sorts of warm and fuzzy feels.)

While I have never experienced such circumstances first hand, I have witnessed a family, whom I consider close friends and who were once housemates while they walked through the immigration process only to be abused by the system. Many of the hoops they were given to jump through seemed impossible. I have also benefited from walking with individuals in our community who receive disability and other forms of government assistance. I can, with sincere confidence, tell you it is not as easy of a process to get “free handouts” or certain freedoms and access to resources as many may think.

I will agree with you that our system is broken and there is certainly room for improvement. There will always be room for improvement in any system which is governed by imperfect humans. I believe we all can agree on that.

For those who think it is too easy of a process to receive handouts or become an immigrant or refugee in our country, I welcome you to walk a mile in their shoes. Only then would I be happy to hear and have more respect for your opinions. At the very least, perhaps we can befriend and walk alongside someone in such circumstances before casting polarized judgment. I certainly do not have all the answers, but before simply regurgitating uninformed rhetoric, creating more barriers and insisting the system needs to change, perhaps it would be beneficial to familiarize oneself to the actual process by getting to know someone who is most directly impacted by such decisions.

Opinions are cheap, but true empathy just makes more sense and gives us more of an informed perspective. If we want our opinions to have a greater impact, we need to strengthen our empathetic capacity.

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