We can never hope to have enough humility to truly understand what it is like “in another man’s shoes.” We can only endeavor to appreciate what we ourselves have achieved without putting down another person’s circumstances and apparent choices that may have led to that lifestyle.
Recently, one of the current administration’s secretaries, Ben Carson, was quoted as saying this:
Poverty is a state of mind.
No wonder he’s been getting a huge backlash from saying this; but, it made me think. What is the reverse? So, I posted a response:
Mindlessness is a state of poverty.
We have choices in life; it’s true. Perhaps, as adults, we have chosen to say or do things that have kept us in some form of impoverished state of living. However, we can never look over the proverbial fence and point a finger at anyone else who seems to be living in poverty and tell them that it is all a state of mind. To do so is not only cruel and heartless, but misses the point of choice and mindfulness.
What is the opposite of mindfulness? Mindlessness. We are living in a unique time where we are all being forced to wake up to our collective condition. To say everyone is waking up at the same time or in the same way is ridiculous. Each human has their own unique path and will spend their life in a perpetual cycle of waking up and falling back to sleep again; no exceptions.
When someone asked the Dalai Lama whether he was enlightened, he laughed and replied that if he were, he would no longer be in physical form. On suffering and ignorance, he said:
“All suffering is caused by ignorance. People inflict pain on others in the selfish pursuit of their own happiness or satisfaction.” ~Dalai Lama
There is poverty that goes beyond the simple fact of not having enough money to afford food or housing. It is the poverty of an ignorant mind, what I call mindlessness. If you cannot appreciate that each person is always doing the very best that they know how to do, in that moment with what they have to work with, then you cannot judge them.
A 16th century martyr, John Bradford, who was burned at the state for the crime of “stirring up the crowd” with rebellious words against Queen Mary the First (the Tutor queen), is attributed with the well-worn expression of humility:
There but for the Grace of God go I.
To be humble and understanding of the suffering and condition of others is one of the underpinnings of most religions. We can never hope to have enough humility to truly understand what it is like “in another man’s shoes.” We can only endeavor to appreciate what we ourselves have achieved without putting down another person’s circumstances and apparent choices that may have led to that lifestyle.
There is another axiom that comes to mind, so to speak, pun intended…A mind is a terrible thing to waste! If we are mind-FULL, rather than mind-LESS, then we can realize that our own path is unique and never-MIND what it is that others are or have done on theirs.
I welcome your thoughts on this thoughtful topic.
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