Saturday, March 09, 2013

on stumbling in my footsteps.

Now I’m not looking for absolution
Forgiveness for the things I do
But before you come to any conclusions
Try walking in my shoes
Try walking in my shoes…

You’ll stumble in my footsteps…

I'm not looking for a clearer conscience
Peace of mind after what I’ve been through
And before we talk of any repentance
Try walking in my shoes…

You’ll stumble in my footsteps…

Depeche Mode’s “Walking in My Shoes

The general idea I get from (or read into) these lyrics is something like the following:  Consider something I did that was really messed up.  I agree I messed up.  What I did was wrong.  But before you hold me responsible for what I did, I’d like you to put yourself in my shoes and see if you’d fair any better.  By “my shoes” I mean my genetic makeup as well as the same kind of nurturing I’ve had and the environment in which I’ve had it.  I’d also like you to assume any decisions I made as a direct consequence of both my genetic makeup and the nurturing I’ve had and the environment in which I’ve had it.  Okay, now with these conditions met, I’d like you to be in these shoes and see if you would fair any better with respect to this evil that I’ve done.  My reasonable hunch is that, at least for this particular thing I did in this particular circumstance, you would have done the very thing you’re judging me for. Christ said that before you may rightfully judge me for what I’ve done, you must first remove that plank from your own eye—that is, you must make sure that you’re not judging me hypocritically, for by whatever standard you judge, so too will it measured unto you.  And once you realize that you’ve violated the self-same standard you’re judging me with, I guarantee that your judgmental attitude will be qualified with both love and compassion.  But, in this case, what you’re judging me for is something you yourself haven’t done, and therefore the judgment which you cast stems from a standard from which you are beyond reproach.  Fair enough, I say, but let’s extend Christ’s wisdom from what you didn’t do to what you maybe would have done, had you been in my shoes.  Suppose that, had you been in my shoes, you would have stumbled in my footsteps.  And if so, it seems that the standard from which you judge would have been measured unto you, and you would not have been beyond reproach. Therefore, if you’re not in my shoes, and if I have good reason to think I couldn’t have done anything other than what I did do, then make sure that your judgment is tempered with the same sort of love and compassion you would have for me had you stumbled in my footsteps.  

Metanote.  To even articulate oneself as the writer of Depeche Mode's Walking in My Shoes” has requires a fair share of self-awareness and moral depth.  Penning such words in itself is a kind of confession of one's own brokenness and frailty.  And usually such a confession results in an earnest attempt at repentance, redemption, and renewal.  But here's our new question.  Suppose someone messes up really bad and her messing up is such that we would have done the same thing, had we been in her shoes.  Suppose further that she fails to reflect on herself in such a way that she neither could pen nor identify with these lyrics.  Suppose further that had we been in her shoes, we would have failed in this respect just as she has.  What then?  Perhaps we should be willing to forgive her even if she cannot see her own fault. For, as Christ commands the Father, "Forgive [her], for [she] know[s] not what [she does]." 
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