Of shoes and inspiration

When Kris Doubledee stopped the city bus he was driving one day, stepped off, and gave his shoes to a man that did not have any, he really did show the best of what humankind can offer in a time when it’s easy to give up all faith in humanity.

The other day, I heard a CBC interview with Doubledee and he said, “Anybody would have done it.” No, not everybody would have done that. As the story goes, Mr. Doubledee noticed a man walking along the sidewalk with no shoes. The next day, he saw him again and decided to stop and talk to him. He asked the man if he would wear his shoes if he gave them to him. He said yes. So, he gave them to him.

Would anyone do that? Well, did anyone in the 24-hour period between when Mr. Doubledee first saw him and the time he gave him his shoes? Nope. Who knows how many other people saw that man walking without shoes. And, those who noticed, what would they have thought? First impulse would probably be “That guy is crazy!” and steer clear of him. Or, they would just think he was another homeless drunk. Or, perhaps they went by him and didn’t even notice that he was there, let alone that he had no shoes.

No, it’s fair to say that not everyone would give their shoes to a complete stranger on the street. In fact, I think the number of people who would do that would be few and far between in our society. I even ask myself if I would have done it. To be honest, I probably wouldn’t have even thought about it, and I consider myself to be someone who is supposed to care about these things.

I talk a lot about human rights, peace, justice, and caring, but I have never given anyone the shoes off my feet. I often don’t even give out change, sadly. I feel suspicious about where the money is going instead of thinking as though I am helping someone. Why? I suppose I am caught up in the world of stereotyping as many of us are, and face it, we all know what those stereotypes are. But Kris Doubledee has got me thinking about this. Have I passed anyone without shoes? If I did, why didn’t I help?! Why didn’t I notice? What if it was me without shoes and what if Kris Doubledee wasn’t around? Would someone else fill his shoes, pardon the pun? The answer is, not many would.

No, Mr. Doubledee, you really did do something special. You really did do something that many of us other humans would not do. But, I think that every time we hear a feel good story of human kindness it does, or at least probably should, get us thinking about our own actions in this world, even just for a short bit. And the more we hear about these stories, the more we will be inspired to follow suit. It’s fair to say that this man has inspired many, given the international attention he has received – every bit of it deserved.

You’re a good man, Mr. Doubledee. You’ve done a good thing. Thank you.