The Golden Rule

“Always do right. This will gratify some people, and astonish the rest.”-Mark Twain

Good morning! When my daughter was in the difficult school years featured in movies like Mean Girls she lashed out at a bully who had been picking on her. When I asked her why, she explained she was following the golden rule “treating others like they were treating her.” I explained that although that is how much of society lives, she had the golden rule backward. I explained that she was half-right. If the bully was practicing the golden rule, then she wouldn’t pick on Sammy in the first place-but just because the bully picked on her, that didn’t make it right to lash back.

Then I uttered all those wise statements that we get to say as moms like, “If a friend told you to jump off a bridge, would you?” and, “Two wrongs don’t make a right.” My daughter, being the inquisitive child she is, wanted to know how far the bridge was from the water (in case it would be fun, like a diving board.) She also wanted to know if two wrongs don’t equal a right, what they do equal, because in algebra two negatives make a positive.

I felt myself quickly losing ground in the conversation. I switched paths completely. I asked Sammy, “Do you want to be like this other girl? Is she a mentor?” My daughter rolled her eyes, appalled at the thought. I explained that one of the basic success principles is to identify what qualities you desire, find someone who has them, and emulate them. I didn’t have to go any further-she understood the outcome of emulating the actions of this girl. Yet she still seemed troubled. “But that isn’t fair. Why do I have to lead by example if other girls aren’t?”

I asked Sammy to imagine a world where we all treated each other like other people treated us, instead of treating others how we want to be treated. We quickly saw a war-filled world, with harsh words and hurt feelings. “Someone has to find a better way,” I told her. She seemed ready to end the conversation, although I could see her mind was spinning.

The next day she came home from school and told me she and another girl had encouraged the start of an anti-bully group in their school. The group has been ongoing for three years and has dramatically reduced the bullying challenges of the school.

When today’s quote came across my screen, I wished I would have had it handy during my conversation with my daughter. Always do right. This will gratify some people, and astonish the rest. Often times we “do right” not by following the rules, but by forging new paths where they are desperately needed. We “do right” because we gratify and astonish others-and ourselves. A life filled with gratitude and astonishment is a much better life than one where we point fingers and live a backward golden rule.

Your Turn: How do you live the golden rule in your own life? Do you take the higher road and “do right” even when it is the most challenging choice?

Today’s Affirmation: Every day, I make the right choices at every juncture.


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