The idiom which says, “Never criticize a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes.”, is a timeless paraphrasing of the Golden Rule. It has various versions such as, “… walk a mile in my moccasins, or … walk a mile in my heels.”  It has also humorously been extended with, “So when you do criticize him you are a mile away, and you have his shoes.” Fifty years later Joe South’s song about it is still earworm worthy. In a social environment which seems to daily grow more polarized, we might do well being reminded.


Targeted Outcomes:

  • Have fun within a diverse group.
  • Re-humanize people with different views.
  • Allow individuals to feel they were heard.
  • Give people practice in talking about issues in a manner that is respectful and civil.
  • Provide an opportunity to understand views of others, even when if they don’t agree with your own perspective.

This is created around current events as well as hot-button social and political concerns; it is not a debate, but rather an opportunity to hear and be heard. The experiment is created to neither preach to the choir nor look for converts. It is  expected that most participants will leave with the same opinions they brought to the event. The point hopefully is that people gain insight into and respect for views different from their own, and gain skills in discussing topics in a civil and respectful manner.

A host oversees the experiment to make certain everyone stays within the MIMS boundaries of civility and time. To participate in MIMS the participants must agree to follow simple rules (adapted from the Coffee Party’s Civility Pledge.) All parties must be civil, honest, and respectful toward people with whom they disagree. They must demonstrate a value for people from different cultures, experiences, people with different ideas, and also cherish the democratic process.


  • Choose people to be invited. (Allowing each person to have a turn may require the size of the group to be limited.) The game might be done as part of another event or meeting.
  • Cards with current social/political topics should be prepared.
  • Typical event plans such as space, seating and refreshments should be arranged.
  • Provide a walking staff to play off of the “walk a mile in my shoes” should be used as a talking stick, which means only the person holding the staff will be allowed to speak.
  • A table of prizes should be setup. Guests can be asked to bring donations for the prize table. It could also be stocked with yard/garage sale type items or a few things picked up at a dollar store.

The Experiment:

  • The guidelines and process are explained to the group.
  • Each person picks a card from a hat/bag/shoe. The point is to avoid pet peeves and cause folks to create a unique presentation. The card has on it a social or political issue.
  • A list of twenty-five items is included.
  • It begins by the Host choosing a person and handing them the MIMS stick. That person takes a turn of up to two minutes expressing their views/feelings regarding the topic they drew while following the civility requirements. They earn one point for doing that. They are then given the opportunity to express the opposing view on the same subject to earn two additional points/tickets.
  • That person passes the stick to another person who does the same until everyone has contributed.
  • Participants may choose additional cards.
  • Prizes can be purchased from the table with the points/tickets earned.

Follow Through:

Participant should be encouraged to connect and continue the discussions one-on-one and through social media.

MIMS Topics:

  • Abortion
  • Big Money in Politics
  • Environment and Climate Change
  • Faith / Religion in Politics
  • GMOs
  • Guaranteed National Income
  • Guns and Responsibility
  • Homelessness
  • Legalized Marijuana
  • Medicare for All
  • Nuclear Weapons
  • Online Trolls and Bullies
  • Police Brutality
  • Political Correctness
  • Private Prisons / Schools
  • Race and Incarceration
  • Rebuilding America’s Infrastructure
  • Former Prisoner Voting
  • Child Separation at the Border
  • Refugees / Immigration
  • Religious Freedom vs. Non-Discrimination
  • Student Debt
  • Taking a Knee
  • Vaccines
  • Vote or Not to Vote?