“…Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies.”
I am still occasionally haunted by an incident that happened in my eighth grade year. Eric, who was black, stood in the hallway with arms filled with his books while a group of white bullies poked and shoved him around. Eric stood his ground because he didn’t want to drop his books (we didn’t carry backpacks or knapsacks then, we carried our books in our arms). It haunts me because I did nothing, even after he fell, his books spilling onto the ground and he stood up to fight back, but by then, the damage had been done as the group of tormentors walked away laughing at him. As I remember it, no one, myself included, stopped to help him pick up his books. Eric was humiliated and years later, so am I by my lack of care and defense. Yes, we were kids and kids will be kids, but we were old enough to know better. I saw the same scene years later as a black sales manager was endlessly grilled and ridiculed in a meeting by his white peers as we sat by and watched, knowing that it was unfair, but not saying anything. And, I was in a position then to do something about it, but did not. I question myself over these incidents and can only surmise that I did not, could not at the time, live up to the scripture in Hebrews to feel the pain they were going through while being mistreated as if it was the pain in own body and being.
These are difficult times and we each have to figure out own responses, so please don’t take mine as what you or others should be doing, but I would encourage each of us to spend a little more time trying to follow the scripture in doing the best we can to feel the pain of the mistreated and then accept it as if it was our own. If we are to truly walk a mile in another’s shoes to understand them, then we have to be honest with ourselves and accept that those shoes won’t fit our feet and we have to feel and endure the blisters and the pain that comes from that mile. If we don’t, then we really didn’t make the walk.
Reference: Hebrews 13:3 (New Living Translation)