The Golden Rule

Jesus said, "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets" (MATTHEW 7:12). In other words, treat other people the way you want to be treated, as this is the message of the whole Bible. This principle of love or outflowing concern for our fellow man has come to be known as the "Golden Rule" of human conduct, for it is the only way to peace and harmony for everyone.

Such nice-sounding words - fine sentiments, you might say. But we must go beyond nice thoughts. We must think about this Golden Rule in terms of day-to-day living. Let's begin in the early morning, when you crawl out of bed and drag yourself to the bathroom. Someone was thoughtful enough to replace the roll of toilet paper which was emptied last night before going to bed. The toothpaste that you had squeezed dry is gone - in its place, a brand-new tube. There are clean towels on the towel rack. And as you turn on the faucet in the shower, you notice that the shower walls and glass doors have been dried by whomever went in before you. The morning's off to a good start!

Returning to your bedroom to get dressed, you see that the bed's been made and the clothes you'd thrown over a chair the night before are nowhere to be seen. While looking into your closet to decide what to wear today, you see clean clothes hanging there.

While you're dressing you can smell the tantalising aroma of coffee brewing in the kitchen. You hear the sizzle of eggs frying and the pop of the toaster, mixed with the clatter of dishes and silverware being set out on the breakfast table. Laughter and the chatter of children's voices make you feel even better about the day ahead.

Now let's ask ourselves a question: Do we just take it all for granted? Or do we reciprocate and show our gratitude for these gestures of thoughtfulness? If we do, we're probably feeling pretty good about things and it looks like clear sailing for the day ahead!

But as far as the day-to-day routine is concerned - nothing lasts forever! The kids are off to school and you're now in your car, heading down the highway to work. The traffic is unusually heavy. And, of course, the driver behind you is tailgating, anxious to get around you but unable to do so. You glance in your rear-view mirror frequently as the tension begins to mount. You look down and see that you're already doing the speed limit. The other driver finally pulls away from behind you, speeding up as he passes you on the wrong side. Looking over, you see him make an obscene gesture! Now your tension turns to anger - the first stage of "road rage". So what should you do? Speed up - trying to turn the tables and tailgate him? Or do you ignore him and let your anger subside? This is a good time to remember the fine start you had this morning. It's time to remember the Golden Rule.

You finally pull into the lot at work, searching for a parking space. When at last you spot one, so does another driver approaching from the opposite direction. What now? Do you graciously allow the other driver to take the space? Or do you cut him off, hurriedly pulling into the spot yourself? Another good time to remember the Golden Rule.

Entering your building, you sense someone coming up behind you. Do you stop and hold the door open, or do you go through without even considering the other person? You stride toward the elevator and someone inside reaches forward to hold the door back for you to enter. Makes you feel good again, doesn't it? Perhaps others know about the Golden Rule as well.

Your co-workers greet you with a cheery "good morning." You respond with a friendly word and a broad smile. Your mood continues to improve as the morning progresses.

As all of us should be able to see, we each have an effect on one another. No one lives in a vacuum. There are so many things we do that can make - or break - someone else's day. And vice versa!

Later, when lunch time rolls around, you decide to grab a bite to eat at the diner across the street. But the waitress has a trainee in tow and it's causing a delay in the noonday rush. You're in a hurry to eat because you also want to run a few errands before heading back to the office. And when she finally brings your order, you find that it isn't even what you asked for. Do you get angry? Do you demand to speak to the manager? Do you tell him what horrible employees he has? Or do you now remember the Golden Rule and exercise patience - trusting that the waitress was doing her best under the circumstances. Patience has its own reward, remember? Practicing the Golden Rule, then, you begin to feel good again.

Now for the errands. You have to stop by the dry cleaners and pick up the clothes you dropped off the other day. But the clerk informs you that they couldn't get a large spot out of one of your coats. Again, do you get angry at the clerk? Do you curse at the manager? Or do you once again remember the Golden Rule? After all, it's not the clerk's fault that the spot wouldn't come out. Nor is it the manager's. And how you respond will not only affect your attitude, but the attitude of these employees as well. It could ruin your day and theirs. But a polite "thank you for letting me know" could make all of you feel better the rest of the day. And if you do think it's proper to speak to the manager, then present your case fairly, without raising your voice, being rude or sarcastic. Present your case just like you'd want someone to bring a complaint against you!

As we all know, a little kindness can go a long way. But unfortunately, being considerate in this way is, all too often, not our normal inclination. As British author Mary Webb wrote, "if you stop to be kind, you must swerve often from your path" (Precious Bane, bk. 2, chap. 3, 1924).

Yet if we will think and meditate often on the Golden Rule, putting ourselves in others' shoes, then we will be far more likely to treat them as we should. A French author once stated, "True kindness presupposes the faculty of imagining as one's own the suffering and joys of others" (André Gide, Pretexts, "Portraits and Aphorisms," 1903). That, in fact, is the very point of the Golden Rule.

Finally, after a long, hard day, you pull into your driveway at home. And wouldn't you know it - toys and bikes are lying all over the place, even blocking the garage door! Once more, you remember the Golden Rule. So you put the car in park, set the brake and climb out. As you begin to clear the way for your car to get through, your kids come bounding out of the house to greet you. Rather than yelling at them for blocking the garage, you speak some soft words of correction to remind them for next time. Then you give them all a great big hug - glad once more to be home with your family and counting your blessings.

Tonight, you think, would be a good time to start taking the first steps toward making tomorrow a better day for everyone. Why not place your clothes in the hamper when you get ready for bed instead of throwing them over the chair? How about setting the alarm to get up in time to make a fresh pot of coffee? Perhaps there will be some time tonight to read to the kids before they go to bed. You see, there are so many ways to practice the Golden Rule. And home is so often the best place to start.

Source: 'The World Ahead'

Practical Applications of the Golden Rule

  1. If you open it, close it.
  2. If you turn it on, turn it off.
  3. If you unlock it, lock it
  4. If you break it, repair it.
  5. If you can't fix it, call in someone who can.
  6. If you borrow it, return it.
  7. If you use it, take care of it.
  8. If you make a mess, clean it up.
  9. If you move it, put it back.
  10. If it belongs to somebody else and you want to use it, get permission.
  11. If you don't know how to operate it, leave it alone.
  12. If it doesn't concern you, don't mess with it.

From a column by Ann Landers