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Put Yourself in Their Shoes (A #1000Speak Post)

put yourself in their shoes

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Back in January, a blogger friend (Lizzi of Considerings) wrote a pretty moving post called “We ALL need The Village.” It was about how “The Village” that used to be around to help raise children, to speak up when something just isn't right, or to lend a helping hand when needed has all but disappeared. It shed light on the fact that there is so much negativity in the world & not enough people who are willing to expose it or prevent it — or even try.

Where's the COMPASSION in this world?

Lizzi didn't stop with her one post. She kept talking about it. Then, before she knew it, paired with another blogger friend, Yvonne Spence, the village was created. They call it #1000Speak for Compassion. Within days, over 1,000 people signed up to be a part of this movement. The idea was that the blogosphere was to be flooded with #1000Speak posts on February 20. Some wrote blog posts, some wrote poems or short stories, & others recorded videos, took pictures, or created other art. There was no limit to how participants chose to express themselves in the name of compassion.

What an awesome thing to do, right?

With every intention to jump into this movement, when the time came, I just didn't. Compassion is difficult for me these days, I suppose. When you're withdrawn & sleeping the day away & doing the “bare minimum” to get by, it is hard to reach out to others. Sad, but true.

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With all of that said, just because I missed February 20 doesn't mean I need to continue to miss “the boat.” The group decided to continue its cause on the 20th of each month, with a compassion-related theme. For March 20, the theme is “Building from Bullying.”

How does compassion tie into bullying?

I'll tell you what: It is more intertwined than you would think. It is easy to focus on the victim — & a lot of times that is exactly what needs to happen. However, the one doing the bullying is often already a victim in some way — or just plain doesn't know any better.

Put Yourself in Their Shoes

When I was just shy of my eighth birthday, my (white) mother packed up my younger sister & I & moved us from Burbank, California to a tiny little mountain town in Western Washington. My sister & I are mulatto (half-black). We were nearly the only little brown-skinned kids in our new hometown. We had never been exposed to racism — at least not in a way that made us recognize it as such.

I remember one day bursting into the house with tears streaming down my face because a couple of the neighbor girls were calling me names & taunting me. To this day, I don't remember their exact words, but I do remember feeling so terribly hurt that they would make fun of me because I looked different from them. I just didn't understand.

Was there something wrong with me?

My mother just smoothed my hair & sighed deeply. Then she said something I will never forget. 

She said, “Honey, they're just jealous that God didn't give them a natural tan. They have to work hard for theirs.”

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What a cool mom, eh?

Of course, she went on to say that they didn't know any better & that I mustn't hold it against them for their ignorance. She said that I should just do my best to quietly show them that there is nothing to fear about me & that I am a good person, regardless of how “different” I am to them.

I won't say it was all peaches & cream after that. . . But, I will say that my mother's prompts to be more compassionate about these other little girls' sheltered views were life-changing. To this day, whenever someone is nasty towards me, I nearly always wonder, first, what would lead them to behave in such a way. . .

I try to put myself in their shoes. . . Isn't that part of what compassion is about?

(By the way, most of the girls that were so horrible to my eight- & nine-year-old self are now in relationships with black men &/or have had little mulatto babies of their own. It's kind of an interesting thing. . . & proves my point further that a little compassion can go a long way — they must not have known better back then.)

Our Words Matter #1000Speak

If you would like to be part of #1000Speak, there are plenty of avenues to get you there. Although having your own blogging platform is easiest, you do not have to be a blogger to participate! The #1000Speak group has started its own blog to give voices to those that do not have one of their own. Check out the #1000Speak Blog or email to submit your questions or compassion-related material.

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There is also a #1000Speak Facebook Group & Facebook Page to keep up with all the latest #1000Speak happenings & to get clued into what next month's compassionate theme will be. Then, click to follow @1000Speak on Twitter.

In the meantime, you can go here to check out some of the other building from bullying (& compassion-related) posts for this month, or use the hashtag #1000Speak on your favorite social media site to see what pops up! 😀

Won't you join us?


If you're still interested, here are a few other tidbits to read up on:

18 thoughts on “Put Yourself in Their Shoes (A #1000Speak Post)”

  1. Oh wow.. do I love your mother!! What a wise and COMPASSIONATE perspective she had… and very interesting and actually really cool, about the later lives of those same kids!! VERY cool.

    I’m so glad you came ‘on board’ the boat this time around!!

    1. My mother was a very compassionate person. . . Thank you! I get a chuckle about those girls now. . . I am glad their views have been broadened; that’s for sure!

      I am glad I got on board this time too! I can’t wait to be more involved. 😉

  2. I love this. A natural tan – your mom is awesome. Huge cheers for her for showing you and your sister how to turn the negativity into an opportunity for compassion. There’s no excuse for bullying or racism or any of it, but considering what the other person’s reason for their behavior might be is one way to combat the cruelty and ignorance with a better option. This is exactly what we’ve been working to teach our daughter when things happen at school – consider what motivates the other person to behave a certain way. Consider what makes YOU behave a certain way. Getting to the bottom of things is a great start.

    1. The “natural tan” bit is something I still use — to this day. I absolutely love it! (& it is part of why this whole situation stuck with me so well too, I think.) Motives DO matter — for both good & bad actions — & they should be considered more often, I think. Motives make all the difference in the world in my book.

  3. I love this. Your mother was very wise. I’ve often thought it interesting that so many of us white people try to get brown skin, but then are racist about those who have the natural tan – and like your mother I thought perhaps it’s jealousy!
    So glad you joined us this time around. I love your compassionate approach to people who are nasty to you.

    1. Right, Yvonne?? LOL. Jealousy or not, I think that it is not always about hate or ill-will; it is often times about fear or uncertainty. WHY people do the things they do & say the things they say MATTERS. It doesn’t necessarily excuse poor behavior, but it DOES go a long way towards explaining it & helping others help them. . .

  4. This was awesome!! Your mom really knew what she was doing. What a great example and lesson she taught you. It must have helped ease your troubles when you were able to have compassion for your bullies at such a young age. I didn’t learn to have compassion for my bullies until a couple of years ago. haha!

    1. She really did seem to know what she was doing. It would be interesting to have a conversation with her now to know what was going through her head during those times. . . 😉

  5. Lookie there. It’s NEVER TOO LATE. And I hope that for a long time now, the 20th of each month will give bloggers the world over the chance to share their experiences and spread compassion and awareness and positivity and build the village.

    This is a gorgeous, gorgeous post, Reta, and thank you for making time to do it.

    You ARE compassionate. You’re also going through stuff, so yaknow what, give yourself a break. This is brilliant 🙂

    (And yeah, I was interested to read that so many of those girls grew up and found black men to have relationships with…perhaps you turned out to be a trendsetter)

      1. Well just think, maybe if you’d been a bitch to them, they would have felt confirmed in their racist views and never been open to the idea of dating the black guys who turned out to be Mr Right…

        HAH! You’re welcome for whatever I am on the day 😀

  6. Pingback: Compassion & Time with Loved Ones (TToT #17) | Calculated Chaos

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