As a “padawan” barefooter, I’m consuming every piece of information I can find that relates to my recent choice to ditch my shoes. I’m fascinated with the subject of barefooting and I’ve discovered how a simple Google search can lead me through a myriad of web sites, organizations, blogs, photo journals, clubs, and social networking sites. From what I can see, the barefoot lifestyle seems to be catching on—maybe not as fast as we would like but our numbers are on the rise. I’ve discovered that habitual barefooters come from all walks of life and social classes. It’s quite simple: bare feet aren’t just for hippies anymore.
At the same time, however, bare feet still aren’t for the majority of the human race. When I slowly began to test the waters of barefooting, I was researching a lot of information. Before I peeled off my socks I was already aware of some of the social stigmas that clouded this subject. I must admit that I, myself, subscribed to several of them. I still remember the collective “eeew” that could be heard around the world when photos of Britney Spears, entering a gas station bathroom with her bare feet, popped up on the Internet. My personal path to barefooting began reluctantly as a last resort to decrease the chronic pain in my spine and knees. I had no idea that I would (quickly) become addicted to the point where I now want to cry if I’m forced to put shoes on!
Everywhere I’ve dared to tread has been a pretty positive experience for me (so far). From the corner of my eye, I sometimes catch the occasional head turn and whispering as people pass; but I don’t care. As I’ve stated in an earlier post: most people don’t really notice or they’re just too afraid to come right out and say something to my face. However, given the anonymity behind a computer screen and an avatar, people are much more willing to speak their minds. And let me tell ya, there’s a lot of debate between barefooters and shoddies going on in cyberspace!
Now, I’m a huge supporter of America’s First Amendment Rights to freedom of speech—even if I don’t necessarily agree with your opinion. You can say whatever you want about any topic you care to discuss; I simply ask for the same opportunity in return. But there are times when I come across opinions that I perceive to be downright ridiculous! I’ve read comments from critics who cite everything from drug needles and rat feces to Yellow Fever and HIV as reasons for keeping your shoes on. We’re all familiar with what they say and you have to admit you know a lot of the arguments are pretty stupid. Every once in a while you come across negative press that’s so eloquently written that they can actually sway the opinions of shoddies who might be sitting on the proverbial fence post. After all, anyone who can successfully spell the word “leptospirosis” obviously knows what they’re talking about, right?
Let’s face it: some individuals just have a need to be right all the time. These are people who need to feel superior or empowered. By insisting on being right, they feel elevated above those who they can prove wrong. They will argue their point to the bitter end even if it means that have to lie through their teeth. The whole strategy of debate is to state references that support our opinions. I could easily compile a list of licensed medical professionals who say bare feet are better for us than shoes. I could just as easily find claims from those who would disagree.
The question is: “who’s right?” Well, I’ve come to the conclusion that whatever we perceive, we believe. What we believe is what we “know” to be true for ourselves no matter how crazy or outlandish our ideals might look to someone else! Regardless of the ongoing debates between barefooters and shoddies, everyone is entitled to express whatever notions they believe—so long as our comments don’t incite immediate lawless action or aren’t likely to produce such actions.
In summation, bare feet aren’t solely restricted to the youth movement of the mid 1960s. I have found evidence of doctors, lawyers, religious leaders, popular entertainers, teachers, and athletes who have professed positive opinions to support a barefoot lifestyle! As the barefoot population steadily grows, we stand a chance of gaining a much broader acceptance. At the same time, however, critics and naysayers will continue to maintain their ideology that we’re wrong for tossing our shoes into the dumpster…
“…because there are small children, in third world countries, who need shoes so they don’t develop deformities!”