Sunday, January 13, 2013

Wearing Another's Shoes

"We should be lenient with the  faults of others for they were our faults yesterday. None of us is perfect, and we should remember this in dealing with others." These Shakespearean words, as translated into Korean, prompted the desk columnist of the Korean Times to explore a topic, which he believes deserves more attention in today's world: concern and respect for others.

He begins with the example of automobile drivers who have good reasons to be upset when the driver in front of them suddenly makes a turn without using the turn signal, concerned only with getting to their destination.  However, the columnist admits that when he's in a  hurry, there's a lot  that he does that upsets other drivers.

An African proverb says, "In a hurry, travel alone. If you are on a long trip, go with others but go as fast as the slowest, and lighten their load."  This  appears to be a sacrificial concession on the part of the fastest, but it's meant to maintain good terms with the slower persons, which in turn is helpful to the faster ones on a long trip. This demonstrates, he says, concern and respect for others.

If we look at those who have been notably successful in life, we see that many have certain traits in common: the  obedient type, the leader type, the analytical type and the adaptable type. According to circumstances, there is a need for different types but the columnist prefers the one who can fit in smoothly with others, usually the one exhibiting concern and respect for others.

In the present society of cut-throat competition where one is expected to outdo the other, the adaptable type does not find it easy. We all want to have the concern and respect of the other but we also have to ask ourselves how much  concern and respect do we have for others.

We have the belief, says the columnist, that our concern for others will be detrimental in achieving our goals in a highly competitive society, despite the findings of psychology, which show that we are happiest when we are concerned for the welfare of others. The essence of concern, he says, is to be able to put ourselves in the shoes of the other. If we think that everybody is the same our solicitude for the other may be doing the other harm. Respect and   concern for the other is what is required by love.

As Christians we have the example of God, says the columnist, who bestowed on us the greatest amount of concern possible by sending us his son. We in turn should give this same concern and respect to his children. It will bring great joy into our own lives and turn our dream of a better world into a possible reality.


  1. One of my frequent questions is "What's your hurry?".

    The competitive world of business, politics and even dating forces people to make hasty decisions and take risky actions. Yes, some people get a charge from competition and acquisition which is likely wired into the primal, survival part of our brains.

    I agree with your comment about respect and concern for the other. I will take it one further to offer that we are happiest when are DOING something to improve the welfare of others and not just being concerned.


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