Today’s song is ‘Walk A Mile in My Shoes’. This song was written by Joe South, who had a hit with it in 1970. South was also producer and arranger of the track, and of its B-side, ‘Shelter’. The single was credited to ‘Joe South and the Believers’. The Believers included his brother Tommy South and his sister-in-law Barbara South.
The song's highest position on the ‘Billboard Hot 100’ was when it reached Number 12, which was also November 14th
its highest position in the ‘Cashbox Chart’. It also reached highs of Number 56 in the ‘Country’ section and Number 3 in ‘Adult Contemporary’ in Billboard and it made Number 10 in the RPM chart in Canada. It was South's second and final record to reach the top 20 of the ‘Billboard’ chart and it also reached the Top 20 in Australia.
The message of the song concerns racial tolerance and espouses the need for perspective and compassion.
I was twenty-eight when this song was first released and was preparing to acquire examination qualifications at Further Education Night School classes in order to gain university acceptance. At the time, I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to be a History teacher or a Social Worker. What I did know however was that I was never meant to be a leader in industry. For a few years prior, I had sampled the high wages of being a Mill Manager on nights but had gradually arrived at the decision that this was not the vocation that I was meant to follow.
I had been lucky to have lived through a very bad accident at the age of 11 years, during which I mentally promised my Maker that if my life was spared, I would devote the remainder of it doing good works for my fellow humans. I would like to believe that I did not pray in vain and that my prayers were answered after I made a miraculous recovery. A national newspaper described me at the time as ‘The Miracle Boy’. In return, I have tried to live up to my part of the bargain ever since but have not always succeeded.
I became a Probation Officer at the age of thirty and over the following 25 years, I managed to do a good deal of creditable work, helping many others to change their lives for the better. Since I retired early on the grounds of ill health 25 years ago at the age of 52 years, I have continued to assist others in any way I could. For the past seven years, ever since I developed a terminal blood cancer and have also had operations for three other different cancers, I have continued to offer the benefit of what I know and believe to many Facebook followers through my Facebook Page daily.
I try not to act in any ‘Agony Aunt’ role, but rather as an ‘advice-giver’ on many stressful situations that are problematic and commonly experienced. As the founder of ‘Anger Management’ in the early 1970s (a process of working with aggressive people that mushroomed across the English-speaking world within two years), and as someone who has spent over 50 years as a Relaxation Trainer, I am suitably qualified to assist many people reduce their tension levels, sleep better and become less aggressive in their responses.
I spent thirty years researching the way people respond in certain situations, finding out why they react to specific stimuli in those situations as they do, and learning how the process can be interrupted so that a person’s overall behaviour pattern may be changed for the better. This work generally came under the umbrella term of ‘Behaviour Modification’ when I started my work and research into these behaviours but is more commonly referred to today as ‘Cognitive Behaviour Therapy’.
I suppose that my greatest achievement as a worker has been seen in the roles of ‘enabler’ and ‘hope giver’. For the past seven years, through my daily Facebook page, I have endeavoured to illustrate that life can be good, even when one is dying. However bad our medical condition is, it does not and should not ever be allowed to define us as an individual. I have had four major cancers over the past seven years; they have not had me! Although my body may be in the progressive stage of departing this stage, I intend to live in this world for as long as my God allows me to. I also intend to continue to live happily alongside my loving wife, Sheila, and positively among my community of family, friends and neighbours. My primary role in life today is not to resign myself to gradual medical decay, but instead to help people how to live a better life and how to die a better death when that time comes.
I feel there is much truth in the title and message of this song. If only mankind could learn to stop and think a bit more often before criticising, abusing and accusing others, life would be a far kinder place. It is only when we can truly understand the mind-set of another that we can get closer to recognising the difficulties of their passage and the feelings they are experiencing as they go through daily life.
Although I have three cancers in my body (one of which is terminal), I am not in horrific pain like so many people with certain kinds of cancer are. I can engage in the semblance of more ordinary life and I am also very fortunate that my high pain threshold level makes my ongoing condition far more bearable than many others experience in similar circumstances. Even being confined to my house more months in any year than I am able to leave it (because of the absence of any effective immune system which enables me to fend off even the slightest of illnesses like a common cold) still enables me to be better catered for than many thousands of people without a nice home like mine; some of whom sleep on our streets, in shop doorways and on park benches during cold, winter nights.
I know that I am so privileged to have a sound roof over my head, nice furniture to sit on, good clothes and footwear to daily don and nutritious food to eat. I don’t even have to consider if I have enough income to keep the open fire banked up when it is cold or over-worry about fuel bills. I even possess enough income to occasionally donate to worthy causes. Above all, I am married to a loving wife and partner, and I have never felt lonely, depressed, insecure, purposeless or unloved in my life.
When I pass away, I know that I will not die materially wealthy, but I will not owe any creditors one penny. The only person I will have to submit my accounts to will be my Maker, and I know in advance that my balance sheet will have many lines through it, rubbings out and corrections on it, and too many ink stains to consider giving it automatic clearance.
I will never forget a time during my early years as a Probation Officer. It was late on a Friday afternoon and past my home time when the last client of my day entered my office. I was the Duty Officer of the day at the time. This was a rotational role allocated to all Probation Officers, where we were expected to deal with miscellaneous clients and problems who walked in off the street. During these early years, I was very naïve and green to the ways of Probation clientele. I took all of them at their word; even when my more experienced colleagues knew they were lying through their teeth in order to elicit our sympathy and a few pounds from the petty cash box every office held in the event of an emergency.
I also thought I was helping out the alcoholic by giving them a pound out of my own pocket when they provided me with a sob story, whereas my older and more experienced colleagues who’d been in the job much longer than I, knew that it would be two cans of beer that my pound note would purchase and not the sandwich it was supposed to buy. I felt so sorry for one man once who wore threadbare shoes that were hanging off his feet that I gave him a new pair that I was wearing and went home in a spare pair of sandals I kept in my office. It took me over six months before my colleagues were able to persuade me to become a bit more streetwise and not to give away the shirt on my back. An experienced colleague called Joyce, who had far more money than I had, once told me that it was easier to part with the odd pound note and even one’s own footwear than it was to sit them down and talk to them for an hour( thereby making oneself an hour late arriving home). She was so right in her observations.
Yet, my colleagues never criticised me for what I did and I will never forget what one of them once said to me, ‘It can never be wrong to be compassionate, Bill, but being foolish falls back on all of us when we are acting the role of Duty Officer for the day. If you give away everything except your time, you are simply guaranteeing that they will never be helped and will return.”
I dedicate my song today to Debi Delgarno from Corby. Debi is the daughter of her proud mother, Isabell. On the 12th November, Debi’s mother wrote, “ I am very proud of my daughter- she has a full-time job in management- she has an 11-year-old soccer-playing son - and helps out at the homeless refuge - they have actually just asked her to become their manager as her organisational skills are legend - a woman with a big heart x.”
It means so much to every child in the world whether they be 5 years, 10 years or 50 years of age to know that they have loving parents who are proud of them for who and what they are. Let me tell you that there is not one charitable, voluntary or vocational role that exists throughout the length and breadth of the land that isn’t occupied by a person whose parent wasn’t loving to them or proud of them. People who go that extra mile to help another don’t just happen, they are brought up learning to walk in another person’s shoes. Have a nice day, Debi and thank you for being my Facebook friend. Bill x
Love and peace Bill xxx