The quote above is called the Golden rule. Its one that reminds us to think of the impact of our actions on those around us.It sounds like such an easy concept and one that most of us will agree with in principle… But in action? Well that’s a different story!
Being respectful of other people‘s time is one of the ways we impact those around us. Just think back to an incident when someone was not respectful of your time. How did you feel? Now try to replicate that feeling when you are tempted to be tardy when meeting up your friend for brunch(when we are able to do that again).
Have you ever felt annoyed when someone refused to wait for their turn on a line? Well think about that feeling when you CAN use your position or privilege to your advantage that might have a detrimental impact on others.
I also know societal or ‘common good’ issues are never just black and white. This post is not an attempt to evoke guilt about privilege. It is a call to reflect on how individual actions can impact those around us. How can we begin to think a bit more collectively rather than what would work to our advantage?
It is very easy to apply the golden rule when it comes at no personal cost. Choosing not to park in the empty parents bay might come at a cost of circling the car park for minutes that you don’t have to spare. That cost to you though might mean that a stressed out young father who has not slept well in days gets a parking spot.I know the car park issue seems mundane. But it is an intentional example. This is because the golden rule is not thought of in those little things that we do in our day to day lives.
We often think of the golden rule in broader terms like ‘I am kind to others‘. But how does that truly play out in action. Other times we excuse our actions with ‘looking out for number one. And I get that! It is human nature to look out for one‘s self. “
There is often a great deal of difference between the will of all and the general will.Jean-Jacques Rousseau
The quote above highlights that individuals will always have selfish interests. What is clear though is that some of these interests will often conflict with the interests of others.
The golden rule in true action means that sometimes we might have to sacrifice some of those interests for the common good. The golden rule talks about our needs but also highlights the ability to see past our needs. It has to be learnt behaviour to reflect on what it would mean to be the recipient of our actions.
What if I was the cleaner clearing up the waste I just dumped next to the trash can?
What if I was the neighbour trying to sleep after a long night shift with my music blaring too loudly?
What if I was the person who can only shop weekly but cannot get 1 pack of toilet roll because I just bought 10?
As we go into the week, my urge is that we take some time to pause and reflect outside of ourselves.. The world would be a marginally better place if everyone who reads this does. Thank you so much for reading and have a lovely week ahead.