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Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Golden Rule or some crappy adaptation of it.

For one reason or another, the old saying, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you," has been stuck in my head lately.  You know, The Golden Rule that we were all supposed to learn in kindergarten or first grade that basically boils down to, "Treat people the way you would like to be treated."  Yeah, that one.  I don't know why - though I have a few suspicions - but it's been playing over and over in my head for days now.  Once I stopped treating it like a bad 80's pop song that was trapped in my head, I got to thinking about this . . .

Do we really do this?  Do many people actually treat others the way they would like to be treated?  Or, do we simply treat others the way the treat us?  It may sound like the same thing, but it's not.  For instance, if I want my son to be patient, I should be patient with him.  Instead, I often find myself directing him to be patient, and then I turn around and tell him to hurry up.  (I counted the other morning - in one hour I told him to hurry up six times.  That's once every 10 minutes.  So much for patience.) 

I think we do this often in the various relationships in our lives, as well.  Well, if she can't make time to call me, then I'm not going to call her.  If he's going to be rude to me, then I'm going to be rude to him.  If she's mad at me, then I'm going to be mad at her.  If he can't listen to me when I need someone to talk to, then I'm not going to listen to him.  And on, and on, and on. 

And, honestly, where does that get us?  Now, we're all not speaking, and if we are, we're rude, angry, and not listening.  All because we're choosing to treat people the way they treat us, rather than treating them the way we would like to be treated.  So, we're all stooping to each others' crappy level.  Great. 

I thought of this the other day when Gavin hit me in the face with a stuffed toy.  I said to him, "How would you like it if I hit you?"  If I started hitting my kid because he hit me, I'd end up in some serious trouble.  "But, officer, he hit me first!"  I don't think they'd buy that one.  At some point, I have to be the adult, the parent if you will, and set a better example.  So, why don't we do this with the other people in our lives?

Part of the reason, in my opinion, is because it can be exhausting at times.  It's hard to feel like you're putting a lot of effort into treating someone a certain way,  or investing a lot of time and energy into some sort of relationship/friendship, and there's no reciprocation.  It's defeating, and I'm not saying that we should continue pouring effort into being incredibly kind to people who are unkind to us, or investing a great amount of time in people who won't invest time in us.  That's just silly. 

But, if you're constantly putting forth a great effort to be kind, and someone is continually apathetic or even rude, it doesn't mean you have to be apathetic or rude back.  In fact, I've found that I often feel really shitty if I'm rude to someone who has been rude to me.  I don't feel justified; I don't feel vindicated; I just feel like I sold myself short.  Instead, I just decrease the amount of effort I put forth while remaining polite and courteous.  That seems like a better option to me.

Again, I think this stems a lot from my (often idealistic) ideas of raising my kids right.  What kind of people will they turn out to be if they continually witness me stooping to the level of others.  What will they be like as adults if I color on their arms after they color on mine?  If I bite them back when they've bitten me?  If I break one of their favorite toys because they broke a vase I really liked?  Pretty sure they might end up in jail.  Or a psychiatrist's office.  Probably both.

So, that's my philosophical rant for the day.  Or maybe it's just my justification for trying to remain true to the person I am, and the person I want to be, in spite of the actions of others.  Or, maybe I need another hobby.  Or a beer.


  1. If only you could have a beer. Very deep post, and I like it. Gets my old wheels a'turnin. Honestly, I haven't given much thought to how this applies to anyone outside my own children and my students, and I think that right there is a problem. We teachers spend so much time treating others the way we wish they'd treat us, it gets exhausting to extend that courtesy to the "real world." It's not a good enough excuse not to, though. Not at all. Thanks for reminding me of this today. :)

    1. I hurried up and wrote this so you could have a break from grading essays. And catching strange diseases. You're welcome! :)

  2. I think you're absolutely right - it's great to reciprocate good things, but we shouldn't stoop to someone's level when it's something crap. It's called being the bigger person, and yes, your children needs an awesome role model. You're doing great!