Judge Softly

Judge Softly

The Walk a Mile in His Moccasins quote is often contributed to various Indian tribes, but it actually comes from a poem written by Mary T. Lathrap in 1895. The original title was Judge Softly. Here is the complete poem.

 

Judge Softly

 

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.

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