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Thursday, April 07, 2011

The Golden Rule

I learned about the Golden Rule when I was a little girl. I learned to say “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”
Can you imagine what a wonderful world it would be if we all did our best to follow this simple rule. Think specifically. Think of the kindness, the happiness, the peace!
See if this quote by President Gordon B. Hinckley helps: “May I remind us . . . that if only each of us would reflect occasionally on that Christ-given mandate and make an effort to observe it, this would be a different world. There would be greater happiness in our homes; there would be kinder feelings among our associates; there would be much less of litigation and a greater effort to compose differences. There would be a new measure of love and appreciation and respect. There would be more generous hearts, more thoughtful consideration and concern, and a greater desire to spread the gospel of peace and to advance the work of salvation among the children of men.“
This simple, profound rule seems to be at the very heart of all that the Savior taught.
Here’s the way it’s recorded in Matthew 7:12—“Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.”
I like the way others have expressed this. Buddha taught that “one should seek for others the happiness one desires for oneself.” And there’s a version by someone called Aristippus who lived in 365 B.C. (Do you think people had nicknames back then?): “Cherish reciprocal benevolence, which will make you as anxious for another’s welfare as your own.” Beautiful! Sweet! Reciprocal benevolence.
I’ve had some experiences which have brought me to a deeper personal meaning. See what you think of this version: “Do unto others even if they never ever do unto you.” I was probably waiting for someone to return my efforts at loving kindness, and perhaps they didn’t. But I wanted to be kind anyway. I didn’t want my kindness to be conditional: “You’re not getting any more kindness until you do something for me!” That didn’t sound right, and it didn’t feel right.
As I’ve pondered it, I’ve realized that the Golden Rule is one of the best helps we have in our search for “what would Jesus do?” The Savior recognized that we help ourselves by helping others. Happy, kind, healthy individuals do a lot to ensure a happy, kind, healthy family or neighborhood or village or society. It seems to be about awareness, cooperation, and unselfishness.
Here’s a little exercise which you might find interesting.
Make a list of some of the ways you would have others treat you. How do you like to be treated? What makes a difference in your day and your life? Write them down. Be as specific as you can. What are the things which people do for you which you especially appreciate? And perhaps there are things done or said which aren’t helpful at all. Keep track. Think. Notice.
I’m convinced this can be very helpful to us in shaping how we treat others. The Golden Rule is an invitation to change our behavior, even if others don’t. It’s a way of living that we put in our hearts so that it eventually comes naturally. We’re always nice even when it seems like not everyone around us is.
Jesus invited us to follow His example: “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another” (John 13:34).
Let’s give some increased attention to the Golden Rule. Let’s see if we can cherish reciprocal benevolence, which will make us as anxious for another’s welfare as our own.