When I was in fifth grade, my teacher had a sign that hung above the chalkboard. It read, “The Golden Rule: Treat others as you want to be treated.”
She introduced this to us on the very first day of school and I remember it distinctly as it was such a logical concept that I was confused as to why I’d never heard it before. I recall being impressed by this notion of tolerance, so much so that its lesson has stayed with me for the past 27 years.
However, sadly, the golden rule appears to have largely disappeared from today’s society. It seems we now live in a world where every day social conduct is completely lost. You’ve probably seen the articles and blog posts addressing similar sentiment’s- parent’s raising assholes, people with their faces buried in their cellphones and iPads… a society whose majority has lost a common civility towards each other.
People no longer move aside when they see another coming toward them. In fact, if you can get them to look up and even acknowledge you’re there, it’s a big deal. Professionalism and collegiality barely exist, if at all, in the workplace. Entitlement and self-importance has become a plague on humanity. An epidemic of extremism haunts us as people fight over whose diet, fitness, political, religious, and race agendas are better or right. We no longer have the ability to ‘agree to disagree’ with people or find a common ground on seemingly any point, regardless of what it is.
When I write, I typically avoid controversial topics such as politics and religion. Largely because someone once told me, “Write what you know,” and those topics are not areas in which I consider myself particularly knowledgeable. In addition, I’m typically bored to tears with people and their endless, all-knowing pontifications. Plus, my mother has always told me, “It’s better to be assumed a fool, than open your mouth and remove all doubt.” However, when it comes to common courtesy, respect and professionalism, I can be rather loquacious.
The basis of the golden rule comes from the Bible, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” But let’s take the religion out of it and keep it simple… don’t be an asshole. (Sorry, mom) I recognize that this may seem like a dumbed down, Mary Poppins outlook. But we all know that simplification leads to a better understanding of situations.
A little dose of perspective and humility never hurt anyone, right? And in my unsolicited opinion, the golden rule is needed more now than ever. Our society is crumbling around us and soon we’ll be no better than the great Roman Empire… which no longer exists.
Granted, I am not an exception to this. In fact, as many of you know, I have little to no tolerance of people. However, my lack of patience stems from the fact that the majority, not everyone, but a large amount of people are so enormously lacking in social graces that it makes me want to take a tazer gun to their temples. Repeatedly. However, I frequently remind myself of the golden rule (Thanks, Mrs. Mac) and try desperately to be tolerant. It’s not easy. But they say practice makes perfect…
So practice the golden rule at home, in school classrooms, the workplace, grocery stores, restaurants, movie theaters, hospitals, yoga class, and yes, even church. Can you imagine the world if we (most of us) practiced the golden rule? What an improvement that would be!