According to Dictionary.reference.com, the Golden Rule is defined as follows:
noun 1.a rule of ethical conduct, usually phrased “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” or, as in theSermon on the Mount, “Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so unto them.” Matt. 7:12; Luke 6:31.
I had the opportunity to hear Immaculée Ilibagiza speak last Wednesday night. What a dynamic, positive person she is. In the Rwanda genocide she lost almost her entire family and only survived by hiding with 7 other women in a tiny bathroom for 91 days. Through prayer and contemplation, she was able to forgive those who murdered her family. I have no idea if I could possibly come to that point, even after a much longer time. She is definitely an exceptional person. I bought her first book, “Left To Tell” and am looking forward to reading her story.
“The love of a single heart can make a world of difference.” – Immaculée Ilibagiza (in her book Left To Tell)
She made so many good, thought-provoking comments during her talk and really touched me and helped me to see things in a different light. After listening to her presentation, I want to be a better person. I want to be more like she is, more giving, more forgiving, more grateful for all that I have. I really started thinking, that if we all were to try to live by the Golden Rule, it truly would be a gentler, kinder world. There is an old Native American proverb that says,
“Don’t judge any man until you have walked two moons in his moccasins.”
By ascribing the best motives instead of the worst to those we encounter throughout the day, we may find that we have more compassion and patience. Perhaps that server that wasn’t the most attentive when we were at lunch was distracted by the health problems of a family member or perhaps has no family in town to help with his/her children. Perhaps the bank teller that was less than friendly to us was just verbally assaulted by an angry customer before us. Perhaps our surly sons or daughters were just scolded by a teacher, snubbed by a friend or tripped over their shoelaces before coming out of school. I’m certainly not excusing bad behavior, but I think by responding with a shrug or a smile or an understanding word, we might be able to be the one that turns the other person’s day around for the better.
Compassion for others, as stated in the Golden Rule, is taught in nearly every religion. Author and self studied theologian, Karen Armstrong, in her book The Spiral Staircase talks about compassion being a central theme in all great religions. She explains it in the following quote from her book. “The Golden Rule requires that every time we are tempted to say or do something unpleasant about a rival, an annoying colleague, or a country with which we are at war, we should ask ourselves how we should like this said of or done to ourselves, and refrain.” If we would take these words to heart next time the thought crosses our minds to be unkind or to say something that is hurtful and hold our tongues instead, just think of the positive impact it would have in our families, neighborhoods, cities, countries and in fact the whole world.