Gentle Reminder about The Golden Rule

During this Holiday season, many different religions celebrate with traditions, family and as much joy as possible.  There is often also a sense of stress, expectations and turmoil that can surround the Holidays.  Whatever your religion may be, or not be, we are at least all humans.  One of the most fundamental concepts for celebrating your deep humanity is to abide by The Golden Rule.  Wikipedia does a good job of explaining it, saying, “The Golden Rule or ethic of reciprocity is a moral maxim or principle of altruism found in nearly every human culture and religion, suggesting it is related to a fundamental human nature”

One part of this concept that is commonly mis-understood, is that it can go the other way.  Many believe that they should treat others the way they are treated by others, and this can easily go downhill.  I have often seen while working in the world of conflict resolution, that this concept is commonly one of the underlying issues found in the history of troubled relationships.  The ethic of the Golden Rule is to treat others the way you want to be treated, REGARDLESS of how they treat you.  When we use the rule as a form of revenge, it is no longer serving its original intent.

So, what does this revenge look like?  Someone is rude to you, so you are rude back.  Someone hurts you, so you hurt them back.  Someone does something that effects your day for the negative, so you can easily justify not caring about their well-being.  You get the picture…

So, what does it look like to practice The Golden Rule in its truest form?  Someone is rude to you, and you remain respectful.  Someone hurts you and you do your best to understand them and help them despite their actions.  Someone effects your day negatively and you continue to value them as a person and even try to see where they are hurting.  Got it?

Here’s another thought:

 “Love one another and you will be happy.  It’s as simple and as difficult as that.”  -Michael Leunig.  

Sometimes the people in our lives who are the hardest to love are the ones who need to be loved the most.  When we understand that people who are hurting us, are generally only doing so because of their own pain, it is easier to have compassion and love for them.

As the Buddha says, “Holding on to anger is like eating poison and expecting the other person to die.”  In this season of love, stress, peace, heartache, compassion, turmoil and deeper understanding, let us all follow the Golden Rule as it was intended and be genuinely good to others because we want to, not because we expect something from them.

Happy Holidays!

Robin FunstenComment