What do you stand for?
What does “Do unto others, as you would like them to do unto you” mean to you? This age-old verse, known as The Golden Rule, spans over time and religions from Ancient Egypt to Zoroastrianism to giving up your seat on the underground…or not.
To bring it up to date, I would say “being kind to others is a way of feeling good about yourself.”
We have the power to create the world we live in by living – indeed by loving – it into being.
If I were sitting in a busy train while someone more frail than I were standing near by, I could do one of five things:
- I could stay in my seat, being thankful that I have a seat, or being smug that I have a seat so I can carry on giving attention to my smartphone whilst pretending that I am ignorant to the needs of this person. I could even justify that I have a bit of a bad knee / someone younger should have the good manners to stand up / they should have had the good sense to catch an earlier or later train and I can’t be held responsible for their bad life-choices. I guess I could feel OK about this, but down deep inside would I be being true to myself and the loving, caring, sharing world that I wish to live in? What if this were me, my frail friend or my mother? I’d like to think that others would be human and care enough to ‘do the right thing’. If truth be known, I haven’t felt good about myself when I’ve done this.
- I could self-righteously pass loud comment that someone young and healthy should stand up, as I embarrass others to accommodate this frail person, who would probably also feel embarrassed. How would I feel? Possibly better than the scenario above, though possibly the self-righteousness might turn into slight shame and my own embarrassment might kick in inside of me. My energy may not expand with love – and rather I might shrink into myself. I’ve done this too and I didn’t feel right either.
- I could bolt up like a good schoolboy and – without thinking – do the right and dutiful thing. This could be seen as the right thing to do, though there’s something unconscious about this, almost like the boy in me is acting on reflex rather than with conscious choice. A part of me might do it for fear of criticism, or with a need to be liked by and gain the approval of others. Would this ‘doing the right thing’ be an act of love, or fear? I’d rather come from the conscious man inside of me acting with loving kindness and feel authentically good about myself, and I’m sure the other person would rather this too. It’s draining to be around approval-seeking people, including myself.
- I could notice the need of another human being and choose to stand, without concern or consideration of what other people do, think or feel about me and without making a fuss, be true to myself and my personal values and offer my seat. Something about this is not only being kind to this person, but it actually feels kind to myself because I’m coming from love and bypassing some of the complicated rubbish that goes through my head.
- I could do nothing and stay in my seat, believing that the world is unkind, so why should I be the mug that always gives in and misses out. If this is my attitude, that I will need to prove myself right about this and I will, at some level, demand that life proves me right about this – and it surely will. I will continue to live in an unkind world, not feeling good about myself, not expecting to ever feel good about myself and not sharing goodness in the world.
I wonder whether the moral of the story is to follow my heart rather than being distracted by my head?
Volunteering takes this to another level, where people can connect with one another, unconditionally, without the need for personal gain or public recognition. Connection happens in a moment and the feelings of care, kindness, indeed love can last for hours, days, beyond weeks as this relationship to life could become a way of life. Now that’s surely a simple and powerful way to create the world you wish to live in!
Whether it’s preparing Christmas hampers for the homeless in a back room somewhere, or actually handing them out in the streets, it’s the energy behind this that feeds the kindness in me and passes it forward into the world. So the question is, are you willing to come from love instead of fear? What kind of world do you wish to live in? You have the power to create it. And if you don’t stand for what you believe in, you’ll probably fall for anything.