Apparently dogs have more rights than human beings in Asheville.
I walk around barefoot. I hike and eat and sleep and fish barefoot. From a very young age, I have been prone to infections if I ever wear shoes. A couple of years ago, I broke my L5 vertebra into pieces. The doctor told me it is better for my back if I do not wear shoes. I have found that not wearing shoes has greatly reduced my debilitating back pain. I did not really find this out until I finally followed my doctor’s advice while living in the heat down in southern Mexico. Nearly all my back pain is gone now that I do not wear shoes. In addition to this, I consider it absolutely part of my religious beliefs to remain shoeless in order to remain as close as possible to the earth and my creator as I understand him/her.
Going barefoot opens up a whole new world of experience. It is like opening up a sixth sense: the warmth of the earth or cool wetness of a muddy stream bank, the soft crunching of last year’s winter leaves underfoot — so many feelings shoe-wearers miss out on in their lifetimes. They have literally shut down one of their most important senses by entrapping their feet in animal and petroleum products.
I feel sorry for the people who have been programmed to pay tens of thousands of dollars over a lifetime to wrap up their feet in something that harms the entire body and insulates a person from a fantastic and healthy tactile experience. Of course, this is only my opinion, and the opinion of nearly every podiatrist and doctor who has spent time out of country and seen the lack of foot problems in people who never wear shoes.
As I find myself walking downtown, most people glance fearfully at my barefoot stride as if I had suddenly become a threatening monstrosity. They hold their children closer while those children wonder why they are not allowed to go barefoot as their body and nature tells them they should. Unfeeling, senseless policy is why. Senseless, unthinking, unfeeling policy and political correctness is why we have lost so many of our freedoms in this country. U.S. policy and dogma dictates that if you see something foreign to you that you do not understand, fear it, and then come to develop hatred for it. This, I believe is the cause of the greatest erosion to our rights as a people in this country and across the globe.
I have been confronted by librarians at Pack Memorial and managers at stores regarding my barefoot lifestyle. I ask them why their policy allows a filthy animal such as a dog (and I love dogs, but they are filthy, poop-, carrion- and garbage- digging-and-eating creatures) into an establishment, whereas I, who shower and wash my feet every day, cannot. I do not track around feces or poop after digging it up to eat, yet the animals in Asheville who perform such activities apparently have more rights than I do.
Yes, yes, disabled people have a right to have service animals wherever they need to go. I have no problem with this, and welcome such animals into all places, and yes, I do love dogs. I have a problem with my rights as a human being infringed and not being able to relieve my back of pain because of some unfounded stigma against people who choose not to wear shoes for their own reasons. This not only violates my constitutionally guaranteed rights to happiness and religion, but it is also discriminates against me because of my disability.
I wash my feet every day. When was the last time you washed your shoes? I have people come up to me saying that I am in violation of North Carolina health codes by not wearing shoes. This is completely false. North Carolina health code does not ban bare feet from any establishment, and, in fact, protects myself and others from discrimination based on religion or disability. I wonder why the library and local businesses want to continue to violate my rights due to my disability and my religious preference.
— Michael Sheasly
Editor’s note: A shorter version of this letter appeared in the June 8 print issue of Xpress.