Monday, August 15, 2016

Do unto others...

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you"...
Sounds wise, pragmatic and even doable.

In fact, I have long used this as a guiding principle in determining my conduct with people. And still there have been times when this has led me to place of selfishness and bad choices - all completely unintentionally.

I have now realized that using ourselves as the standard for treating others is often a bad choice because it sets us up as some form of a moral rubric. Following this maxim has often led me to do things that I believe are right for me, not necessarily things that are right for the other person.

How would someone want to be told of a bad news - clearly in writing or rambling in person?
How would you like to deal with a bad memory or experience - bury it, live in it constantly, fight it constantly or succumb to it?
Would you rather vent in rage and move on or silently process it, forgive and forget?
What do you do with a wound? Dress it and wait for it heal, leave it open as a reminder of the things that went wrong or pick on it till you have a scar for your lifetime?
Do you console them? Do you mourn with them? Do you remind them of better days or do you offer them hope?
Do you talk them out and give them attention or do you give them space?
Different people react differently and need different things. When we do to them, what we would have them do unto us, we are taking the choice away from them. We are imposing our standards and our choices on someone else. We end up putting ourselves above their needs and that often leads us to making bad choices with the best of intentions.

What is best for you may not be the best for me... How then do we navigate this?
What does one do? How do you treat a person with the kindness and love they truly deserve? How do you give them what they truly need at the moment?

I don't quite have all the answers but the first step to identifying a solution is to find the problem, and in my mind that is the problem. Being a kind human being means being able to recognize what the person needs at that moment and to give them that - and nothing else.

If you know someone well enough, these choices might become easier and intuitive, if not, it might be best to just ask them. Because sometimes, all we want to do is be helpful and do our bit. But in the process, we may just end up becoming a part of the problem and not of the solution.


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