Heeding the golden rule in a turbulent world isn’t always the easiest thing

osborne_karen    It’s called the golden rule for a reason: It’s beautiful, valuable and incredibly important. Lately, though, people who actually implement the golden rule in their lives seem just about as rare as its shiny metallic namesake.
    Being kind to others isn’t rocket science, although some people tend to think it is. I’m talking about people like the guy in the white truck I spotted at a downtown stoplight not long ago. He violently threw a hamburger and a soda can on the street right in front of a panhandler who was holding a cardboard sign that said he was hungry. The soda exploded. It ruined the panhandler’s clothes and shoes, as well as his day. The truck driver probably never stopped to think about how it would have felt to experience something that degrading.
    Recently, I saw a lady in line at a restaurant holler and swear at the cashier. Her food had been delayed because of a malfunctioning fryer. I wondered: How would the woman who yelled have felt if someone yelled at her for something she couldn’t control?
    It gets worse. Think of the Steubenville, Ohio, high school students recently convicted of raping a teenage girl who drank too much at a party. I bet that if they had been the ones to black out, they would have wanted their friends to make sure they were safe. Instead, they ruined someone’s life in a horrific fashion.
    What if they were the ones to be hurt? Had they ever thought what it might feel like to wake up the next day to see what happened played out online for everyone to see? Probably not. If they understood what it meant to be that girl, they would have never done what they did.
    Listen to the conversations in the hallways in your school. You’ll hear people tearing each other down – teasing others about the clothes they wear or the activities they like, and calling people names on Facebook and Twitter.
    We’ve all been on the receiving end of this kind of treatment. Even the popular kids know what it feels like: the black, hollow feeling, the anger, and the aching sadness that follows after being torn down. But instead of listening to the golden rule and treating others with compassion and kindness, we continue to rip into them with words that hurt and harm.
    We wouldn’t say those things to ourselves. Why do we think it is acceptable to say those things to others and to treat people badly?
    I understand how ditching the golden rule can be tempting. We all want to be catered to, not be the ones doing the catering. Yet so many problems in school and at home could be avoided if we stopped putting ourselves first and started looking at how we would want to be treated.
    The next time you are in a tough situation, think about how you would want to be treated. Would you want to be yelled at? Teased? Hurt? Would you prefer kindness and leniency? If you blacked out at a party, would you want friends to care for you and make sure you were OK? If you made a mistake, would you want people to try to understand or come down on you with anger and wrath?
    The answer is pretty clear.
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