All That Glitters

This is the latest in my series of blog entries taking a fresh look at a variety of topics over the next year. I’ve set up a page on the blog explaining the project and linking to my entries. This week’s topic is “The Golden Rule.”

Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You.

Great advice. Except …

It assumes people want done unto them what you want done unto you. And they may or may not. Different people value different things. Assuming that someone wants the same things you do can be dangerous.

Just because you wish that some guy would creep into your bedroom Edward-Cullen-style and watch you sleep, it does not mean that you should do the same. That could get you in trouble. In relationships, some people need to resolve things immediately. Some people need time to think through things. If you’re the former, doing that unto the latter because it’s what you would have done to you is not going to help matters. Even if you wish that I would give you a nice tin of tasty Indianola pecans, I would prefer you not do the same unto me, inasmuch as I’m deathly allergic.

I would argue that the better version of the rule is this — Value what you value.

The things that are important to you, LIVE like they are important to you. The things you don’t live as if they matter, don’t say they do.

I value honesty; I’ve been lied to too many times by people I trust. I value promises; I’ve spent too much of my life waiting for people to keep their word when it meant less to them than it did to me. I value openness; I’ve learned too many secrets the hard way.

And I try to live like those things matter to me. I strive to be honest. I strive to keep my word. I strive not to let anybody be surprised because they depended on something they believed about me that wasn’t true. I value those things, and so I try to live my life like I value those things.

Not doing that, to me, is the root of hypocrisy — not valuing in the way you live the things you say you value. Which can be either having something that you believe is important but you don’t live accordingly, or paying lip service to an ideal that in truth is meaningless to you. If you really believe you shouldn’t do something, then don’t live like it’s OK. If you don’t think it matters, then don’t say it does.

But, if something matters, LIVE like it matters.