Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Getting back to the Golden Rule


I've been tested recently. It seems some of us, especially under stress and duress, can all too quickly, easily and conveniently disregard the Golden Rule. (Don't want a blow up? Don't cause one or participate in one. That's the general idea.) Now and then, I find the need to test myself again. Indeed, the Golden Rule suggests I do so, since I want others to deliberate, to use diplomacy, to be considerate and compassionate. OK, call me old-fashioned. Blame it on James Dean, Marlon Brando and Dr. Strangelove, cold wars or hot wars, any race to arms or markets or audience share - that sort of one-upsmanship and cynical cool still puts the frosting on our culture. Are we going to let a bunch of self-serving narcissists and players run the show?

What sort of society do we have - and how "compassionate" or "Christian" is our nation - when so many of us are such cynics that we would rather hide behind Darwin than stand up for Jesus?

Now I'm no Jesus freak (I'm agnostic, demurely so on a good day), and I see the revolutionary genius and wisdom in Charles Darwin. But since when has it been a lot better (and cooler) to say "dog eat dog" or "you get what you can get" than to say "treat others as you would want to be treated," much less "turn the other cheek"?

In fear and feeling trapped, we do quickly resort to Darwinian behavior, otherwise known as HUMAN NATURE. But why is it our fight or flight mechanisms have become such a pervasive (and permitted) mania, on overdrive all the time, like a ruthless slap dash montage of bitter sniper fire?

When the going gets tough, the best of us dig down deep, take time to consider things and come back up not swinging but making every effort to soften the blows already dealt. To live up to the Golden Rule, this has got to be a "no fault" or at least "minimal fault" policy. Life is complicated and traumatic enough, and frankly, anger seems to do no good. When's the last time anger worked for you?

And the same generally goes for impatience and rudeness, too. But even where there may be danger, distruction or mishaps, anger is the enemy.

Accidents happen. OK. Mistakes were made. OK. Someone is at fault. OK. Someone needs to take responsibility? OK, but not quite it: ALL need to take responsibility. That's better. Justice should prevail. Very good. The Golden Rule should help us determine our actions and reactions and even our feelings. The Golden Rule can be a stabilizing force - or thought exercise - to bring awareness, calmness and compassion to many situations.

Would you want anyone or even "expect" anyone to be angry at you? No? Then try/work to not be angry, yes, that's right, to anyone. Would you want to be reminded of the facts calmly, politely and with as much objectivity and lack of spite as possible? Yes? Then please do the same for others. Would you want others to care more about you and say so? Then care openly and say you do. Respect, not retribution. Wow, revolutionary stuff, and even Jesus wasn't nearly the first person to come up something as good as this. It's as old as the first successful clan. The Golden Rule is essential to the trials and tribulations of the tribe.

The Golden Rule works because you can and will feel better about yourself. I highly recommend it, even as I'm being reminded how hard it can be and how much practice it takes.


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