Today’s federal holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. seems like the perfect opportunity to reflect on a very simple idea that we would all be better off treating others as we would expect to be treated. Remember the “Golden Rule?” This isn’t some new idea that is limited merely to racial equality, but for those also that get discriminated against due to poverty and homelessness, mental or crippling illness, physical appearance, etc. due to circumstances out of their control.
The ideal of ethical reciprocity actually is something that can be traced to Confucian times centuries ago. Dr. Martin Luther King was asking for something that is firmly rooted in every major religion so you would think this would be easy to do? After all, a majority of the population isn’t evil, ruthless people just out for our own interests. We see in the news demonstrated every day by people doing heroic acts putting their lives at risk to save others.
People will even donate their own organs while still alive to complete strangers. Giving a kidney to your child, spouse, or a close friend is one thing. When I hear about someone giving an organ to some stranger in such a selfless act, it is amazing and gives you hope about the goodness and compassion in people!
But the “Golden Rule” doesn’t demand this level of action. It just means you will be kind, respectful, and to do the right thing as you would expect others to perform on your behalf. This isn’t hard. Tragically, we fight every day against what we have learned or been indoctrinated into by our life experience.
The way we act really is based on how we were instructed or learned. We can get caught up trying see to it that the other guy doesn’t get more than ourselves. Someone’s success should make you feel bad because you are having a harder time.
My neighbor won close to $150,000 in the lottery. I didn’t learn about that until after he died at 96. I would see him drive off almost every day and wonder where he was going. He was buying his lottery ticket. I was happy for him! I found out when I went to his funeral by asking his son why did his father have some lottery tickets in his hand in the coffin.
Remember that each of his has this poison poured onto our souls by TV, the internet, and social media. We have to fight against the strong pull of hate, greed, pride and learn to look at others in a light that treats not necessarily them as our brothers or friends, but as fellow human beings who deserve to be treated with respect. We know what the right thing to do is. We really do, just sometimes, and we forget that. Try to remember the “Golden Rule” and you’ll do the right thing for not just others but yourself as well.