#itsdad ~ The Selfish Irony of The Golden Rule

Hey guys, it’s Dad.

Last night, listening to an audiobook, I heard a comment about “The Golden Rule,” and it kinda started to bug me! I didn’t really understand why. It took me a moment to figure it out. It’s something that we talked a bit about it recently, so I thought I’d share my thoughts.

The author I was listening to was discussing the relationship between actions and consequences; between behaviors and expectations. But, when he encouraged us to “Follow The Golden Rule,” something didn’t sit right with me. “Doing the right thing” isn’t that simple of an idea, is it? There’s got to be more behind it. Right?

Yes. There is. There’s a lot more behind it.

So in the blurry hours in the middle of the night, I thought long and hard about it. The Golden Rule has served us well for hundreds of years, if not thousands, but it has surely seen its better days. I mean, centuries ago we walked everywhere, then we used horses to get from point A to point B, then wagons and carriages. Now we drive electric cars. Sometimes it’s just time to move forward; it’s time evolve, and this is one of those times.

With some insight and some foresight…we can do better. Yep. Today is the day to put that old cliche in a scrap-book, then find something better; something further down the path of social evolution.

On the surface, the title of this post likely appears to contradict itself. How could “The Golden Rule” possibly be selfish? Isn’t it the opposite of selfish?

Nope! It’s selfish.

In fact, it’s completely selfish! 100% self-centered, by definition! It puts “I” at the center of “Others.”

As a teacher, a coach, and a dad, I know that we don’t all have the same needs and wants. What each of us perceive as a reward (our wants and wishes) varies greatly from person to person. While one person wants a new iPhone, another wants a new pair of Basketball shoes, while a third wants a weekend away, camping and fishing with grandma and grandpa. This is not news to anyone. It’s part of what makes each of us unique. But I think we’ve forgotten to pay attention to it. Variety is truly the spice of life, right?

With this idea in mind, why would I ever want to “Treat others the way that I want to be treated?” I shouldn’t! Boom. Done! Put it in the scrap book!

Next!

So what’s next? What’s better than The Golden Rule? Let’s call it The Platinum Rule:

“Treat others the way that they want to be treated.”

Now take a good look at the depth and breadth of changes, in both behavior and mindset, that this change of views forces us to adopt.

The Platinum Rule takes the focus off of “us” and puts it on to “them,” where it belongs. It’s no longer on “I”. It’s on “others.”

There’s a kinda sad trend that’s been happening over the years. With each passing generation, it feels as though we’ve becoming more self-centered. It is clear that in order to create the next significant step in our social growth or evolution we’ll need to focus on the needs, wants, and feelings of others. With this new mindset, we can more easily see the necessary changes that the title of this post is pointing to; the unintended and ironically selfish nature of The Golden Rule.

Now, looking back, the golden rule seems almost laughable.

Ahhhhh…but it gets better.

Among a growing sea of faces buried in digital devices, we’re growing disconnected from each other. This disconnection isn’t just a change in how we interact, it’s becoming divisive. It’s separating us. Check the news tonight. How are we doing? Like…maybe we’re getting a C- in “Life,” if we’re lucky.

This disconnection with each other is rapidly becoming a bit of a crisis. The comfort that we’ve taken in isolating ourselves is creating alarming increases in the rates and levels of depression, stress, illness, addiction, obesity, and loneliness. Sadly, all of these conditions play very nicely together. One often leads to another.

So where’s the Knight in Shining Armor? Who’s going to save us from this dark, downward spiral?

It’s not a “who”…but a “what.”

That “what” is connection; reconnection.

Now here’s the hook.

Built into The Platinum Rule (like we snuck it in while nobody was watching) is an inherent necessity to reconnect. In order to do what’s right for others, we first have to get to know them! How can I possibly know how others want to be treated, what makes them smile, what brings them peace if I don’t really know them at all? I have to know them and understand them, and the only way to do that…is to connect.

So…that’s it! Out with the old and in with the new! Let’s start making eye contact. Let’s start connecting and reconnecting. Then, let’s start treating people the way that they want to be treated.

I love you guys,

5 Words

Love, Dad

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