Wear Someone’s Shoes

Now that I’m home, I’ve noticed all the Christmas music being played on the radio.  One of my favorites is this song:

As an occupational therapist, we are trained on empathy for others.  We go through simulations of what it is like to have a disability.  Sometimes it means spending a day in a wheelchair or using crutches.  Other times it may mean wearing Vaseline covered glasses and stuffing one’s ears with cotton balls to simulate a vision and hearing impairment.  For students, this is temporary and silly in many ways.  We easily forget what it’s like to be permanently affected by these deficits.

As I listen to the song, “The War is Over,” I am reminded of the feelings of compassion and love that the holidays emphasize.  While many holiday songs remind of us of this special times, I have to reflect on whether we are actually living big those emotions in action.

Many of us are thinking about the holidays with shopping and activities, the world news reminds me of the grim reality that others in the world face.  They aren’t as lucky as us.  Some face nothing to eat or no roof over their head.  Young children are living in fear and confusion because of factors beyond their control.  What kind of lasting impact will this have on them?

The research already shows that long term stress on parents and children can have a negative impact on them.  What kind of adults will they become if life has treated these innocent children so poorly? If they have no hope, what can they aspire to become when the world has treated them with discrimination that they don’t even understand?

If I were in the shoes of a Syrian mom, I’d be pleading for compassion for my children.  We all want the best for our children regardless of where we are in this world.  I am deeply saddened by the reactionary social media commentary coming from “leaders” of our land.  The amount of shortsighted thinking about this issue is disheartening.

We all want a world of peace so that our children will avoid facing wars but the knee jerk political decisions being made can be leading us to future battles.  Taking away technology for feeding a growing population can contribute to instability and unrest.  Denying children access to nutritious food can limit their ability to meet their highest functioning capacity to be productive citizens.  Allowing families to be in constant danger and living in fear can create future problems with growing up in an insecure environment.  Are we fostering peace by the stand we are taking or are we further jeopardizing our own future?

The social media encourages quick, impulsive decisions, however, our lives can’t be sustained with constant reactionary stances.  We have to think about the future and the lasting impact what we are asking for entails.  Our children are long term investments of hope for a better future.  What about the children of the world? Don’t they deserve the same?

When your humming those Christmas songs in your car, start listening to the lyrics and ask yourself if you’re living the words you sing.  I want a world of compassion and empathy for others as well as my children.  Isn’t that what we all deserve?

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