The Golden Rule. Where has it gone?

When I was growing up, I heard about the Golden Rule all the time. I heard it from teachers, Sunday School teachers, my mom, my grandparents. Pretty much every grown up taught every child the Golden Rule. What is the Golden Rule, you ask? Simple: “Do unto others, as you’d have done to you.” The modern day translation? “Treat other people the way want to be treated.”

Possibly because it was drilled into my head so often, it drives me absolutely crazy when people are disrespectful to other people, including kids. Many children today are not taught the Golden Rule. They are taught (not directly, but through other’s actions) that they are #1. They should do whatever it takes to make sure they stay that way. If it means they hurt someone else’s feelings, oh well. Some people think being mean to someone toughens them up; some people are completely unaware of other people’s feelings. Some people just don’t care!

I do not pretend to be perfect. Only our Creator is. I am human. I have said nasty things to people in the heat of the moment. I have treated people in ways that I later regretted. I have been in crabby moods, and over-reacted when my kids were… well, being kids. Those things will happen occasionally. It is part of humanity.

What drives me nuts, is when people just don’t care enough to try, at least most of the time, to follow the Golden Rule. Here’s a post by Paul Randal on the subject. His post comes after traveling overseas for a while. The problem seems to not be just an American problem. Rather, it seems to be a global problem. Unless you’re Canadian, I hear they’re really nice up there. Just kidding. The problem truly does seem to be everywhere, at least to some degree.

For a completely different twist on the above problem, you can read Buck Woody’s post. His post comes from the standpoint of technical conferences. He talks about problems that he has seen with speakers at technical events.

I’d like to respond to his post a bit by offering up that many people I know in the IT world are incredibly busy and over-committed. I agree that speakers need to be respectful of the people putting an event together (by following guidelines, submitting requested info ahead of time, and SHOWING UP – duh). Speakers also need to be mindful of the people taking their time to come hear them speak. If they are unprepared, or don’t know the info they are presenting on, they are wasting the time of the people in their session. I think the reverse is also true. People who are coming to events need to remember, sometimes things happen that a speaker can’t help. I have heard of terrible things happening the day of a presentation (i.e. someone dropping and breaking his laptop just before presenting). Demos that have worked before sometimes don’t for whatever reason. Wi-fi at a location may not be great, throwing off the presenter who counts on that internet access for their presentation (I have also seen this at teacher training sessions). Be respectful of that person up there. Getting ticked off that a speaker needs to improvise a bit doesn’t help their stress level. Part of the Golden Rule is putting yourself in that person’s shoes. What if you were the one having issues. How would you feel if people were getting upset with, or heckling you? I’m not JUST talking about a technical conferences, the same is true no matter where you are.

Well, in some ways, this post ended up sounding a bit like a rant. I’d love to hear comments, or read other posts on the topic of respecting other people (or the global disrespect that seems to be a growing problem).

I leave you with a song from a few years back that reminds me of how some people just don’t treat each other right: Paula Cole – Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?

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3 thoughts on “The Golden Rule. Where has it gone?

  1. Molly Lee says:

    YES Sarah! I see the same thing, the golden rule is looking quite tarnished, battered, bruised and stepped on these days. I recently found myself using the saying with my son who was being very sassy, and feeling a little weird that I hadn’t thought to use it sooner.
    A little empathy goes a long ways. I try to keep this in mind when I’m out shopping too. That crabby lady in line with you at the check-outs, the grumpy man who runs into your cart, etc – you never know what’s in their mind to get them to this point of discontent. It could be a life-long thing, or it could be they just found out they have cancer, or their spouse just died, maybe they lost their job that day and they are worried about paying for the needed groceries in their cart – will they have enough money.
    I’ve been in situations like that where something earth shattering has happened, yet I still needed to run an errand or 2 as the house was out of food or meds were needed. It’s tough to focus on anything other than the task at hand and the event that just happened.
    So Sarah, being the child expert that you are – any good suggestions (other than modeling) on how to implement the golden rule with our kids?

    • Sarah S. says:

      I realized too a while back when I asked my kids if they knew what the Golden Rule was. I have Miss Jill to thank that Michael knew what it was. Neither of them really understood it though. It gave us a really good topic of conversation. I do make an effort to remind them of this when they are on either side of a situation when it’s appropriate (i.e. being bullied or picking on someone else).

      I don’t know that I am a child expert, but thank you . I think modeling how to treat others, in addition to talking about it whenever it makes sense are the best ways to teach a child. Also, setting limits with love inadvertently teaches them the Golden Rule. You don’t do it to be mean, you do it to teach them. When they are being raised with values, you are raising them to treat other people and materials with respect. It’s not easy. There’s no magic trick. If I can find any good children’s books (besides the Bible) I will let you know.

  2. [...] it’s been tarnished. Here’s a blog post I found to be a good analysis of this epidemic. http://sarahsjolander.wordpress.com/2011/12/31/the-golden-rule-where-has-it-gone/ What are your thoughts? GA_googleAddAttr("AdOpt", "1"); GA_googleAddAttr("Origin", "other"); [...]

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