Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Golden Rule Should Rule

I am pretty sure I am getting old and grumpy, a fact often confirmed by my family. I admit that lately it doesn’t take much to make me growl and that is very concerning to me. I like to think of myself as a positive, patient person who sees the good in almost any situation, although again, my family may beg to disagree on this. However, the weight of what lately seems to be a negative society is taking a toll on me.
More than once recently I have asked, often out loud, “What is wrong with people these days?” It seems that increasingly we have become a needy, “me-first” society. We all seem to want everything our way and our opinion is the only one that matters. All we worry about is how something will affect us. If we don’t get our way, we take it personally and those whom we disagree with are unreasonable and wrong.  To get our point across we often seem to feel it necessary to yell down and squash any opposing opinions. As a society we seem to have lost all sense of civility and compassion.
Have you ever wondered why this is? Maybe it is because we have all been told if you don’t take care of yourself, no one else will. It all seems to stem back to the idea that you should get what is “rightfully” yours first without worrying about anyone else. Then there is the mindset of “I was treated that way, so everyone else should be too, whether it is right or not.” All of this leads to a very self-centered way of thinking with very little regard for those around us. Please, don’t think I am setting myself apart from this; I am just as guilty as anyone.
Wow, I know what you are thinking, thanks for the uplifting message. What are we going to do about it? Well, I think the answer is really pretty simple; it is the application of the answer that gets tricky. In fact we were given the answer a couple of thousand years ago and reminded of it last week during Easter. The wisest man to ever walk this earth told us to love our God first and then our neighbor before ourselves. If we all adhered to this one rule think about how different our current world would be.
We would have compassion and understanding for those we come in contact with everyday. Would we have to agree with them, would we have to walk away from our own opinions, ideas and beliefs? Absolutely not. It would, however, mean that we would try to put ourselves in their shoes and see how we would want to be treated in that situation. We would be much more caring and much less confrontational.
If we took care of those around us first, it would heal many of society’s ills. Does that mean to not do anything for yourself, no, but it does mean that often you will put aside what you are doing for yourself and help someone else first. Maybe it is because I grew up in a tight knit farming community that I have seen this first hand. No matter what you have to do, you always have time to help a neighbor. This help is given, not because you expect anything in return, but because it is what neighbors do.
Like I said, the solution is simple but the application is difficult. Maybe it is because we have too much information about what we don’t have. My Dad often says that the internet is the root of a lot of what is wrong and increasingly I think he is right. We see what others have and more importantly we see what we do not have. We live in a great nation where our most basic needs are taken care of without much effort and we are rich beyond the comprehension of most of the rest of the world. All of this leads us to focus on ourselves and not others.
Back to the solution, as I often tell my kids, there is only one attitude you control and that is your own. You cannot make anyone else act a certain way but the way you act is up to you and often it spreads to those around you. Good advice for anyone, but especially for a grumpy old man weighed down by the flaws of society.

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