Footprints on the streets
Steps of red paving the way

Upon them



Each Walk


Feet that are still moving and moving still

Just this week I was sitting with a new friend in Playa del Carmen who asked if I had noticed the red paint footprints down the street. I had but I hadn’t really stopped to look or ask, assuming they were leftovers of some kind of street party.

She went on to say it was from a parade that happened in Mexico called ‘the Red Paint Protest.’


On this National Day of Protest, women in Playa del Carmen paraded down the street to make a mark. They put red paint on their feet representing the tragic mark made upon the bodies, hearts and souls of so many through abuse and oppression.

Reminding us of all the blood that is shed through abuse and oppression. Still.

That same night another friend sent me a picture of a healing group that had come together for deep transformative work.

The picture was of their feet in a circle.  
More feet with more messages.

They stood in a circle with their toes all pointed towards the center. Though you could see only their feet with legs ascending to their hips it was easy to imagine them standing with arms linked around each other. Hearts facing inward. Hands on each other’s shoulders and faces looking with love non-discriminatingly.

This overlap got me thinking about feet in general and about the well-known adage, ‘walk a mile in your neighbor’s footsteps,’ implying that if we take the time to take off the lens through which we look at another and actually look from their point of view we will have understanding and compassion.

The process of understanding we need to take off our glasses is simple, and the process of actually taking them off opens an entire realm of self-learning about our proclivities, our unconscious influences, our habits and our beliefs.

If we choose to do this ‘work,’ the rewards can be great resulting in being an agent of change. Jesus is recorded to have said something quite similar, it goes something like ‘Take the plank out of your own eye and you will be able to see the splinter in your neighbor’s eye and be able to more effectively remove it.’

Division today abounds.

Most of the time division comes about when a person or group defines a ‘good’ in a particular way that results in a stance, and this stance positions all perspectives or actions that are not ‘it’ as not as good, not good at all, or even wrong.

And as we can readily see today, when sides and divisions happen, they happen because the parties involved are each motivated to stand for what has been determined as good and their determination contrasts with other determinations.

One remedy to succumbing to the fears that arise around holding to our stance is to learn how to

‘Walk in the footsteps of the ‘other.’

‘Take off your glasses and
put on their glasses
and look from their point of view.’

Not in a way that has a hook in it. Not with a certain reservation that holds out, has condescension or demoralization. We are all part of this world, all part of its collective patterns, no one comes to knowing on the outside, only from the inside.

Do not be reserved or hold your stance, what you think and believe are steadily within you, but rather jump into the mile the ‘other’ is walking and walk it. Seek to truly know the ‘other.’ Get close. Get intimate.

There are signs and qualities that can help you understand how you are doing.

Oftentimes we have a felt sense when we are creating division, there are a large array of qualities that arise from within like uneasiness, irritation, awkwardness and aversion to name a few. If or when you feel these towards another individually or collectively you have information to help you see how you are creating division and the opportunity to change how you are while maintaining fidelity to your own truth.

There are also indicators showing you are on the path to dissolve division within yourself, which then leads towards being an agent for change in the best and most effective way.

Some of these qualities are deep grief, compassion, tranquility amidst the storm and wordless connection. The path may take us through the collective wound of division all the way to the root cause, or it may simply illumine you with deep insights that could not arise within as you held your position staunchly.

This path has as many routes as there are people, so I speak only to the general concept and not to what you can expect on your path.

There can be a fear in going about it this way, as though the stance ‘for’ or ‘against’ something will be lost in an ethereal experience that ‘all is one,’ leaving us inactive or passive.

But the opposite is true. When we walk in another’s footsteps and truly connect from a place that is passionately dispassionate, we are fueled with insight and our words and actions come from a place that can truly bring about the good we seek.

What will have to be let go in the process is something quite intimate to ourselves, the ways we ‘identify’ with our stance, the issues, ourselves and the ‘other.’ This identification is a limited experience of our selves, a false self if you will, and the more this falls away, the more you can be your true Self.

I believe that walking a mile in another’s shoes leads to the second picture mentioned in the beginning of my article where the friends stood in a circle, all their toes pointing together to the center.

It brings to my mind John Lennon’s song Imagine.
Take a moment where you are right now and sing or play this song, I am singing it here before continuing.

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us, only sky

Imagine all the people
Livin’ for today

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too

Imagine all the people
Livin’ life in peace

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man

Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

Again, there can easily be the temptation that I am suggesting along with John a path of moral relativism but the opposite is true. The way into that truth however is a path that heals the illusion of separation as the source of identity.

Asking questions of ourselves along these lines, using the adage of walking a mile in the footsteps of the one that seems to oppose me as a way of getting intimate, will lead to the kind of intimacy we are truly here to know.



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