Friday, April 25, 2008

Whatever Happened to the Golden Rule?

Remember the Golden Rule? "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you"? Can you think of a better way to run your life? A more simply elegant tenet to live by? I can't. I'm not saying that I always succeed in following the Rule in my day-to-day life, but I do keep it in mind at all times, and I try my best. I remember several years ago being asked by a friend how I could remain friends (or at least friendly) with a person I used to date and who was emotionally abusive. I moved to another state to get away from this person (the former BF). But once some time had passed and I was able to be more objective, I was also able to become his friend. And that's what led to my other friend's question. I was a little surprised by the question to be honest. I hadn't really thought about the friendship in "how could you" terms. But I did have an answer: "Because it's no harm to me to be his friend, and he could use a friend, and I'm the one who has to live with myself at the end of the day." My answer was just another way of saying "I'm trying to live by the Golden Rule."

What I can't understand is people who deliberately treat others like crap. I'm not even talking about the big stuff, like murder, here--I'm talking about the little encounters--things that happen in everyday life. I have a friend who called me the other day and told me a story about another supposed "friend" of hers. This "friend" has taken advantage of my friend not once, but several times. While my friend faults herself for being so naive and giving this person the benefit of the doubt and trusting her word (on more than one occasion), I have to wonder what is going on in the mind of the other person, whose behavior is causing so much trouble for my friend. How do people who lie, take advantage of others, and not be a good friend by any stretch of the imagination live with themselves at the end of the day? Do they just not think about the negative effect they are having on another person's life. Do they just not care? I can't believe such people are evil. I'd like to think that they have just lost sight of the Golden Rule.

It seems that people who have lost sight of the Golden Rule can't understand why they alienate the few friends they have (or had). These sorts of people always find a way to blame their problems on someone or something else. It's sad really. What happened to accountability? The Rule holds you accountable for your actions ( you would have them do unto you). I think that if I were consistently losing friends (or perhaps even making real enemies) I would do a little self-reflection and try to figure out what I am doing wrong--not try to make excuses and lay the blame at someone (anyone) else's feet.

What happened to the Golden Rule?


~~Sittin.n.Spinnin said...

I have never understood it either, so I cant help you. My Dad taught me to always rememer thought that if someone is short or abrubt with me, that I don't have a clue what that person may have gone through today, or yesterday, or for the whole of their lives before I had an encounter with them and in light of that fact, to not judge them too harshly. That 'rule' however tends to stick in my craw when said person does the same things over and over. It does indeed make one wonder where they are going to end up on Judgement day.

Anonymous said...

I too have experienced down right wrong, reprehensible treatment- for no obvious reason. I try and stick to being around people with good energy. Others, need not apply. I may not be perfect, but I will always try to make the extra effort to treat people with respect, and dignity, and hope that they can do the same with me.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes you only see one side of the picture so that the so-called "wrong" may not be truly wrong. It's best to know the whole story before casting doubt.

Julie said...

This isn't about seeing sides. If more people tried to live the Rule instead of just putting themselves first, then sides wouldn't even be an issue would they? If before taking action or saying something to someone else, individuals stopped and thought, for just the briefest moment, "Is this how I would want to be treated or spoken to?" or even, "Is this is how I would want my child, my mother, my spouse treated?" it could make such a big difference in this world, and especially in our own lives. When I say it could make a difference in our own lives, the story I told at the beginning of my post is a good example. I could have left that former BF and remained angry and bitter and vindictive, or I could have chosen to let it go and try to do the right thing, because the doing the right thing allows me to live with myself at the end of each day. How much clearer a choice does a person need?

Like Becky's dad said, you don't know what's going on in another's life, so why not give them the benefit of the doubt? Like she noted, it's when a pattern becomes established that we become more tempted to lash out. I think the better solution at that point is to just walk away from the situation, whatever it is. At least I think that's the solution that I would better be able to live with at the end of the day. After all, although I might not have been treated the way I wanted to be treated, at least I didn't perpetuate the ugliness either. And that's got to do something for the good karma in the world, right?