We teach our children “the golden rule” as early as possible and preschool children and elementary students are reminded of its basic premise – only do to others what you would have them do to you – on a weekly, if not daily basis. While many people associate this timeless concept to the Bible, it is actually derived from the aspect of human moral decency and its prevalence is on the decline in America and even in our sacred south.
The Golden Rule is just that – a rule. We are not required to live by it. It does not even tell us what specific act to do in a given situation, but only prescribes that one have empathy towards others. If you wouldn't want to be cursed, then you would not think of cursing someone. If you wouldn't want your name involved in gossip, you wouldn't include others in slander. The list goes on and on.
If we live our day to day life conscientious and impartial, then we will naturally follow the Golden Rule, but it seems as the years go by people have begun to replace this emphatic attitude with one of anger, resentment, and envy towards one another. In fact, from my prospective at least, ours is quickly becoming a “dog eat dog” society that specializes, and sometimes even relishes, in making someone else look small in order that I might look big. It is obvious we are becoming an “all about me” society. Do we really want that?
In an age where hurtful messages can be posted anonymously via the internet or sent continuously through emails and text messages trashing our coworkers, “friends” and enemies, where does that leave the Golden Rule? In order to effectively apply this age-old principal, one must put themselves into the proverbial shoes of another and to be honest, most of us are vehemently opposed to doing so, which reverts back to the increasingly prevailing attitude which basically says “I do not know and do not care what you are going through or how you feel, because my needs and feelings are the only ones of importance.”
To many readers this discourse might be considered a soapbox tirade or even a sermon, but to everyone else, here are some basic principals to apply towards utilizing the Golden Rule.
Pay attention to impatience. Patience is still a virtue. We might not always receive instant gratification and development of true patience can make life more enjoyable: your relationships with other people may become more rewarding, your job may become less stressful, and even the most difficult times can become more bearable.
Respect others. Give someone the benefit of the doubt. If you do not wish slanderous gossip regarding yourself spread around the community, then refrain from doing the same to others.
Smile! Something as simple as a smile can make someone feel attentive to you and your problem. In a customer service situation you are more likely to have a grievance settled when approaching the matter with a respectable and friendly disposition. In most cases, a friendly attitude makes the attendant WANT to help.
Finally, a high percentage of all explosive situations could be deterred if the Golden Rule were applied. If we could all get to point where we treat others only in ways that we are willing to be treated in the same exact situation, we would all entertain better attitudes and live under less stress. To apply this, though, one must be able to imagine themselves in the exact place of the other person on the receiving end of the action. We need to realize that if we act in a given way toward another, and yet are unwilling to be treated that way in the same circumstances, then we are violating the Golden Rule and fueling the fires of hatefulness. And seriously, isn't there enough hatefulness now?