Thursday, July 7, 2011

Does the Golden Rule Mean Nothing?

I am in kind of a funk at the moment, a definite change from my usual Pollyanna-like existence.

I've been noticing a lot, both in my personal life and in the world around me, that people have a tendency to treat others like crap. It's starting to really get to me, to be perfectly honest with you.

I've gotten to the point as a person, however, where I can look at what is annoying me about other people and ask if I am part of the problem or part of the solution. In other words, is what pissing me off about other people something that I do myself, making me an unintentional hypocrite?

I broke this down to the so-called "Golden Rule"--in other words, treat other people the way you would like to be treated.

If everyone lived this way, if each person on the planet made a conscious effort to extend to others the courtesies that they themselves expect, the world would be a far more pleasant place.

So I asked myself, "How do you treat people?"

In general, I think that I do offer everybody kindness, respect, humor, a willingness to work hard, a ready smile, and a helping hand. At least, that is my perception.

That being said, I am also aware that I am not one to forgive and forget. If a person burns me enough times (and in many cases, there has been an awful lot of burning that's gone on before I finally gave up ... I'm kind of a sucker), I will eventually lose any sort of respect or regard for that person.

But does that change the way I treat them?

Yes and no.

I cannot think of the last time I did something malicious to someone, an action intended purely to cause pain, discomfort, or humiliation. It's just not in my nature, I don't think.

But in terms of going out on a limb for someone that's hurt me or someone close to me or even someone I've never met? As far as I'm concerned, the bridge is broken. I would never initiate the burning of a bridge, wouldn't fan its flames or instigate destruction of any sort, but I've been forced--through observing and witnessing and screaming in agony from hurt and betrayal--to accept that walking away (literally when possible and metaphorically when it's not) is sometimes the only thing you can do.

And that makes me immeasurably sad.

I guess the bottom line is that I do not understand human nature. There seems to be a common need to use the misfortune of others to make yourself feel better, even if you're not the one to instigate said misfortune.

Is it because focusing on the tragedies and tribulations of others allows you to put your own pain and shortcomings and weaknesses and fears into some kind of perspective? I think so.

I love hearing gossip, for instance. Celebrity gossip, workplace gossip, the drama that goes on among my students, and so on ... I enjoy hearing about it. I like to know the dirt. However, I do not myself gossip; I'm not one who'll call up a hundred people and say, "Oh my God, you know what I just heard about Joe Jones?"

I guess I'm rambling, but writing makes me feel better even if I don't come to any sort of conclusion that's going to make a difference in the great scheme of things.

I'd love to know your thoughts on this one, though.

Do you treat other people the way you'd like to be treated? Do you think the concept of everybody taking on this challenge would make the world a better place?

And is that even possible?