What happened to The Golden Rule?

Kathleen Parker wrote a good editorial yesterday in the Washington Post.  My propose in blogging here is NOT to pick on or pick a fight with anyone.  I’m just perplexed, as she seems to be, as we move into a day where we’ve lost the ability to disagree with civility. Am I just showing my age?  Remember the book, Everything I Ever Really Need to Know I Learned In Kindergarten?

The principle are:

  • Share.
  • Play fair.
  • Don’t hit.
  • Put things back.
  • Clean up your own mess.
  • Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
  • Say you’re sorry.
  • Wash your hands before you eat.
  • Flush.
  • Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
  • Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
  • Take a nap every afternoon.
  • When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.
  • Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
  • Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup – they all die. So do we.
  • And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned – the biggest word of all – LOOK.

This last one is REALLY important.  Stop, look, think before you cross that road!

If hadn’t learned this by kindergarten, I certainly did in grade 1:  Think before you speak!  You don’t always have to say what’s on your mind.  Miss Campbell, my first grade teacher, drummed that into me/us.

In grade 2, Mrs. Norton made sure we understood these things.  I lived in terror of the consequences…she use a ruler across the wrist.  I never suffered that consequence, but others did so I was a quick study!  Yes, there are consequences to violating social norms.  The problem seems to be that our social norms are shifting in a direction that permits a lack of respect.

And, Miss Henderson, my fourth grade teacher preached (yes, preached) The Golden Rule.  Do unto others…justice, how do you think that action/those words make others feel?  Impact awareness!!!  How are my actions/words/deeds impacting others.  The next step that must be learned is, anticipate how what I’m about to say/do is going to impact others?!

One of the challenge we have is that we live in a day of (too much?) information sharing where we’re using Twitter (I do, too, so I’m not down on Twitter–@cbobcreson) to to let people know what we’re having for breakfast.  Don’t get me wrong, sometime I want to know what my friends are eating!  But, as Thomas Friedman said on Meet the Press Last week, when it comes to access to the Internet (that includes posting), that access should come with a warning:  Judgment NOT included!

That’s the challenge…exercising good judgment.

We all make mistakes.  Fortunately, most of us don’t make them during an address of the President to a joint session of Congress on National TV!  So, let’s cut Congressman Wilson some slack, take him at his word (it was a mistake, it just came out), but let’s also use this as an opportunity to review our own judgment.  Are we practicing the Golden Rule?  Is it a habit?  Do I really need to say what I’m thinking?

Not always…in fact, come to think of it, almost never.

About Bob Creson

President/CEO of Wycliffe Bible Translators USA, Orlando, Florida. It is an injustice not to have the right to read the Scriptures.
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