Monday, April 9, 2012

The Golden Rule

A friend of mine posted this on Facebook the other day.
It's incredibly simple and too often forgotten.

"Do unto others as you'd like them to do unto you"; also known as the Golden Rule. It's the simplest moral code, found in every major religion in one form or another.

It's easy to understand and even easier to do, with a little self-awareness. And yet, sometimes it seems as if almost no one is willing to follow it. When I look around, I see lots of people doing lots of despicable things to each other with only the flimsiest of self-serving justifications. The worst excuse of all - and the one I seem to hear most often - is that other people are doing worse. I cannot imagine how that could justify anything although I can definitely see how it can be used as an attempt to justify everything.

People. Stop what you're doing and just listen for a moment:

The world is a rough and scary place. People are going to do bad things. Sometimes, they're going to do bad things to you. You can't help that, it's a part of life. What you can help is what you do. Treat people with the same respect with which you would like to be treated. Afford others the same rights that you have and would want, were you in their position. Stop judging everyone else based on your own preconceived notions and half-baked ideas. Try to remember that everyone you meet today, tomorrow and for the rest of your life is fighting a battle that is at least as difficult as your own. We're all the starring actors in our own little dramadies, but we forget that everyone we encounter feels the exact same way. Show a little empathy.


Because that's what you want from everyone you encounter. In every single person-to-person interaction, you want that person to treat you like a human being. You want them to understand that, like them, you have needs, concerns and pressing issues to deal with. That's why you feel so wounded and angry when someone cuts you off in traffic or when you call a customer service line and get treated like crap. "Who the hell are they to treat me like that?" you gripe. You're special and you expect them to know that.

But then, maybe you're thinking that you treat others badly because you're being treated badly. Try looking at it this way: if we all follow the Golden Rule, we all get treated better. Sure, not everyone's going to do it (it is an imperfect world, after all), but you'd be surprised at how far a little kindness can go. As a person who worked in retail for years, I can tell you that nothing lifted my spirits more than a customer who was willing to smile rather than snipe. I couldn't help but pay that forward and I never got tired of seeing how a genuine smile and "how can I help you?" surprised kindness out of others. I still try it. It doesn't always work, but it does sometimes and when it does, everything about that interaction becomes so much more pleasant.

I'm not perfect. I do thoughtless things sometimes; I hurt feelings. I'm only human, right? But I make an effort. I try to be aware of the consequences of my actions, especially when dealing with other people. I try to treat people the way I would like to be treated and I expect others to treat me the way I think I deserve to be treated. It doesn't always work. But most times, it does.

Try it and see. What have you got to lose?

No comments:

Post a Comment