Monday, 30 June 2014

Do Unto Others: The Golden or Outdated Rule?

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“Do unto others have you would have them do unto you,” was riveted in my head from an early age. Funny enough, however, as I looked around me, hardly anyone was living by it.  

Strange how that works, is it not? Adults teach one thing but practice another. Being the rebel that I was, more a quiet storm until later in life when roaring became my mode of speech, I would constantly question this maxim. Granted, I did try as long as possible to conform. 

In my effort to live by The Golden Rule, I became a doormat. Thinking that kindness would be return if I bent over backwards and stood on my head for others, my younger years were spent doing some serious mental and psychological aerobics to be “good.”

Please do not get me wrong. While I do not call myself a Christian, not anymore, I am very much a follower of Jesus’ teachings – well for the most part. Never the fundamentalist, however, I question everything and everyone, including Jesus and he was not the originator of this ethical code.
“According to Simon Blackburn, although the Golden Rule ‘can be found in some form in almost every ethical tradition’, the rule is ‘sometimes claimed by Christianity as its own.’ The "Golden Rule" has been attributed to Jesus of Nazareth, though he himself uses it to summarize the Old Testament: "Do to others what you want them to do to you. This is the meaning of the law of Moses and the teaching of the prophets" (Matthew 7:12 NCV. (Source: Wikipedia)
A Priceless Principle would be my name for the lesson that was taught to me after years of trying to “do unto others…" and falling flat on my face:

“You teach people how to treat you by what you allow.”

My experience has taught me that others will do unto me what I allow them to do, not necessarily what I have done unto to them. Over my 40+ years, many times I have gone without money to pay my own bills as my salary paid off someone else’s debt. Sardines, Spam (which I quite enjoy) and other canned fish or meat have been my supper, breakfast AND lunch many a weeks while my grocery funds bought essential vegetables, protein and medication for another. In more recent times, my experience has been that I walked away from lucrative and prestigious situations (let us say) in order to stand up for others.

What was my ‘reward’? Financial loss, infidelity and even bankruptcy as the “others” did not find it necessary to “do back to me” in kind.

From these situations I also learned a couple others things:
  1.  Never do for others with the expectation of a return.
  2.  If I cannot give freely and unconditionally, then do not
  3. Check my intention and motivation before doing anything. If it is self-serving, forget it.
To me those are the “Golden Nuggets” that were not taught to me and probably you. It is indeed true that people will treat you how you have taught them. So be careful of the classes you are holding!

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Have a great rest of the day and Happy Canada Day tomorrow to my fellow Canadians!

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