I was recently at a department event for work, and one of the icebreaker activities was a “four corners” exercise in which we broke off into groups based on our answers to certain questions. One of those questions was “How many pairs of shoes do you have?” The group broke off into respective corners based on the number of shoe pairs they had: Fewer than 15, 15-30, 31-50, and more than 50.
The facilitator made each person in the lowest and highest ranges say how many shoes they had. Some of the people in the more than 50 corner said they had 75, 125, 200, and even 500 pairs of shoes! Most of them thought they really needed that many shoes. Nearly everyone in the room laughed and was amused by this.
I walked away from the exercise stunned. I had 11 and felt guilty as so many people lack even one pair of shoes to protect their feet. It was eye-opening to see the excess that most people aren’t even aware of.
How have we become so blind to the poorest of the poor who are walking barefoot in our midst? Why do we laugh and smile at having excessive amounts of stuff? How is over-indulgence so acceptable and rampant in our culture when so many have nothing and can't afford the basics?
Later that day, others came up and asked me, “Wow, how do you have so few shoes?” I said, “I don’t need that many shoes. Like my clothes, if I don’t wear them, I give them away.” Then they said, “But what if you end up needing them for an outfit?”
I sighed. I pray that we truly recognize what real need is.
In the spirit of the Gospel, inventory your shoes and if you have more than you need, give some away. Hundreds of shoes is nothing to be proud of. Clothing the less fortunate with your shoes is. Don't be the rich man who doesn't see the poor man at your doorstep, or in this case, in your closet.