When I first came to Australia the US was reeling from the discovery our President had lied under oath about his relationship with a 22 year-old White House intern. Every pub, bar and late night talk show on two continents was riding high on Monica Lewinski jokes. President Clinton was being dissected in news rooms on a daily basis. It was not the best of timing, on my part, to be an American abroad.

So I did what every red-blooded American would do under the circumstances. After having been verbally trashed in a queue at the grocery,  my husband-to-be and I packed up the car and spent a year in the bush on walkabouts. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t mind taking it in the ass for my President , so to speak, it’s just that I would’ve liked dinner and a movie first.

Occasionally, around an open campfire, we would run into other travellers. Inevitably someone would pluck my Californian accent from the night air and hone in on it like a seasoned hunter on safari. I would spend the rest of the evening apologizing profusely for the political holocaust my country imposed upon theirs, readily accepted complete responsibility for any inconvenience they may be suffering as a result of  my poor voting skills and promised to do a better job in the 2000 election. And, well, we all know how THAT turned out… *sigh*

Somewhere along the line I discovered that most Australians cannot hear the difference between California, New York and Canadian accents. And (probably because they still air Beverly Hillbillies and Dukes of Hazard re-runs here) it is assumed that all Americans have a southern drawl. So more often than not, a Californian accent is mistaken for Canadian. I quickly learned to say “Why yes I am a Canuck – aren’t you clever for sussing me out straight away!”

But my exposure to another culture and it’s different brand of politics has allowed me to literally live an adage my mother used to tell us, growing up. Before you criticize or condemn another person for the way they look at life, walk a mile in their shoes. Of course that adage has morphed through the years adding… then, you’ll be a mile away and have their shoes!

At the top of this page is a row of shoes. Some big, some small, some old, some new, some ladies and some men’s. And as we of the blogosphere are busy dissecting public figures like Barrack Obama, George Bush, and Sarah Palin, (to name just a few), I thought it an appropriate gesture to pause and try the other guy’s shoes on for size.

More tomorrow – right now my foot’s stuck in a pink pump…