Do Unto Others…Then, Split…

Posted: 11/24/2016 in Life lessons
Tags: , , , , , ,

As a youth growing up in a small Arizona town, I recall seeing a bumper sticker on a 1970 Chevy Vega that read, “Do unto others…then, split!”  Disabled by the under-developed frontal lobe common to adolescence, I chuckled at the word play of an age-old classic known as the “Golden Rule.” I gave it little more thought than to think it was funny and cool. My thirteen year old self was oblivious to the moral implications of this word play and to the prophetic prowess of a 70’s era meme.

The Golden Rule was taught to me and my peers when we started Kindergarten at West School and was reinforced for the duration of our primary and secondary education. It was the magnetic north to our moral compass and the unbiased guide for interaction with others within our little community. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Now, there’s a novel idea.  Simple in its statement yet profound in its standard; one of those “minute to learn, lifetime to master” things. Even if we willfully chose to violate the inherent tenets of right and wrong woven into its fabric, we at least knew what we did was wrong and, therefore, were ripe for redirection.  The reprimand was written into its code. “How would you like it if someone TREATED YOU THAT WAY?”  We understood…and we were sorry. Simply stated another way, if I thought it was wrong for someone to do to me then it was wrong for me to do to someone else.

My, how far we have come!

The beauty of this powerful guiding principle is that it transcends time, culture, race, gender, nationality, religious beliefs, or any other dividing force that can come between people. Whoever you are, wherever you come from, young or old, black or white or other, man or woman or other, straight or gay or other, Catholic or Protestant or other, rich or poor, educated or uneducated, pro-life or pro-choice…and on and on…I am going to first consider how I would like to be treated, then, treat you that way…regardless of how you treat me…regardless of how we are different. In this way, how I treat others is determined by a “higher ground” principle that is constant and unaltered by the actions or behavior of others. I’m in control. 

The power of the Golden Rule is that it is not a rule at all. In fact, the term “rule” is a misnomer. This Golden Precept from Holy Writ is more rightly a rudimentary maxim or axiom upon which a lifestyle is built…and, in turn, when everyone else lives by it, a society. In fact, it is a biblical principle founded on truth sufficient to guide one’s life toward good. It is as simple in its nature and profound in its wisdom as its Holy Author. It is a foundational building block for the culture which is the kingdom of God. The Golden Rule is a witness of heaven on earth. Consistently applied with fidelity, the Golden Rule possesses the power to change the world we live in.

Unfortunately, “doing unto others as you would have them do unto you” has caved under the retaliatory weight of “do unto others as they have done unto you.” Instead of treating others the way we would like to be treated, the norm for many is to treat others the way they have been treated. Or, an even more base rendition which is subject to misinterpretation, “do unto others as you percieve they have done unto you.” The prophecy of a 1970’s bumper sticker has come to fruition; “Do unto others…then, split!” Get…before you get got. Strike first.

It seems, in today’s world, the way to treat others is too frequently prescribed by how others treat us, not the more forgiving  and absolute standard of how we would like to be treated.  The trouble with this is that it gives “others” all the power, and so, the blame game begins.  We are no longer accountable for our actions but our actions are “caused” by the actions of others. “They made me do it.” “They threw the first punch…hurled the first insult…said this or said that…violated my rights” This is all nothing more than knee-jerk justification for insensitive, inappropriate, uncouth, divisive, and even felonious behavior. My bad behavior is excusable because you behaved badly first.

Sadly, this mentality is kindling and fuel for the fires of social unrest we are experiencing in our great nation. Why is our society and culture in its current sad state?  That’s easy.  It’s their fault! In a society intoxicated and  driven by entitlement, many people are more inclined to react to violated rights than to strive for the reconciliation of fractured relationships. Its easier. And, if you happen not to know which violated rights warrant your equal and opposite reaction, a casual perusal of countless “one-sided” media outlets will offer plenty of options. Or, perhaps better stated, plenty of versions of a handful of hand-picked options…but seldom, every option. Apparently, all violated rights are not equal. Selfishness is driving the train off the tracks. “I demand my rights and I’m offended that you are offended that the demand for my rights is infringing upon yours!”  What a degradation to society when its people seek only to be understood with little or no effort to understand. And, this complicated all the more by the hail storm of violent complaints and demonstration littering the streets of our cities under the protected misuse of “Freedom of Speech.”  Burn any flags, lately? Do you loot much?

The fact of the matter is that, regardless of which side of which line you are standing, nobody is entirely right or entirely wrong on either side of the line. In the immortal words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

All the more reason to Golden Rule the hell out of our differences don’t you think? How different things could be if only we all practiced this simple Golden Rule. But I know how it goes. You’ll start living by it when everyone else does, right? And so…

…here we are.

Time to split!

~ Food for Thought

~ Peace and blessings…



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