Sunday, May 23, 2010
The Philosophy of Shoes
By Brian Nixon
Special to ASSIST News Service
ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO (ANS) -- I’m convinced that most things have some sort of philosophy, worldview, or “reason why they do the things they do” behind it. Religion does. Politics do. The business world does. Education does. You name it, the majority of things do.
Now let me go out on a limb here: shoes have a philosophy as well. I know, I know… am I crazy? But let me explain.
Before I wax eloquent here, let me clarify a few things.
One, I am not a big shoe fan. Yes, I wear them. I have a few different pairs. But I am not a fanatic. I’m no Imelda Marcos, who, according to some sources, had over 3,000 pair of shoes. I have basically three types of shoes: high-top Chuck Taylor Converse, low top Chuck Taylor Converse, and some other kind of shoes.
And two, I need to clarify that -- generally speaking -- I am not keen toward trendy fashion. Trendy people are, well, trendy -- and I am not. I will leave it at that.
All this to say that it was an odd thing for me to go to a “shoe fashion show.” Yes, it’s true: I went to a fashion show for things you cover your toes with.
So there I stand, at the “shoe fashion show,” mostly with ladies. OK, it was almost exclusively ladies -- with a few husbands who were dragged along. One guy even refused to sit by the runway: “No, go ahead, dear, I’ll stand over here and enjoy the show.”
As I stood there, I thought, what am I doing here? Nice folks would come up and ask, “Can I help you?”
“No, no. Just here for the shoe show,” was my -- in retrospect -- pretty awful reply.
Now let me say this was not just any shoe show. It was a shoe show based upon the fact that the Albuquerque Dillard’s Winrock store sells the most Born shoes in all the United States. Yes, the whole fifty of them. This was a big deal.
Before the show I talked with a Born employee -- a real nice guy. He explained to me that Born shoes are based in the United States, in Connecticut, to be exact, and that all the shoes are hand-sewn, and crafted with the finest leather. I believed every word he said.
Then, he did the unspeakable: he introduced me to Tom, the president.
“Tom,” he said, “This is Brian Nixon. He writes for a news agency.”
Tom looked at me, waiting for a barrage of questions about his fine shoes. I didn’t have any questions. So I said, “Nice meeting you, Tom. You have a real nice employee working for you.”
Tom looked at me, then at this employee. He smiled and walked away.
The event was quite refined. Over 200 chairs were set up in the shoe section of Dillard’s. There was a fancy runway. And excited people. To make it even better, Born and Dillard’s were giving away bags of stuff for the people who pre-registered. I didn’t, so I didn’t get the cool Born bag. But it was a nice gesture.
Yet the best thing about the whole event is that Tom elected to donate 10 percent of all sales to a local charity, Casa Angelica.
Casa Angelica is a care facility for mentally challenged children, directed by the Canossian Daughters of Charity. The organization has been in operation since 1967.
Casa Angelica provides “a family-centered program for sixteen children with personalized, active treatment plans designed to enhance each child's unique gifts.”
Real nice of Tom. “Good for Born shoes,” I thought.
Then it dawned on me: shoemakers have a philosophy, a guiding principle that leads them toward whatever they are trying to accomplish.
Philosophy, in its most basic definition, means “one who loves wisdom.” But philosophy has come to tackle the essential problems facing all of life: our existence, our knowledge, our values, our ethics, our mind, language, and religion…you get the point.
So when I heard that Mr. McClaskie was donating 10 percent of sales to a Catholic charity, I was very thankful that the philosophy he was adhering to was more that just making “the finest shoes of subtle leather and hand-sewn materials.” Tom’s company was actually caring for those less fortunate.
I am convinced that all philosophies should include the principle of making life better for those whose lives have not been as well off. Sadly, many philosophies have the opposite intentions. They yearn to hurt and manipulate people, not help them.
But I am pleased that a shoe company out of Connecticut has a deeper philosophy than most.
Born shoes helped remind me that assisting others is more than what you put on your feet -- though I am sure Mr. McClaskie has a philosophy on that as well.
But maybe, just maybe, Tom understood something about what Jesus demonstrated many years ago: one must kneel and wash the feet of those that are dirty and shoeless.
Serving, with humility, the “most in need,” as St. Magdalen of Canossa reminded us, goes beyond any company, campaign, or philosophy -- it touches the heart of God.
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This story is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of the ASSIST News Service or ASSIST Ministries.