Friday, April 25, 2008

On the Golden Rule

One of the things I hate most in life is being misunderstood. I hate saying something the wrong way and sounding cold or rude or unconcerned or indifferent or angry or annoyed know anything that I actually am not trying to be at the time. I hate the feeling of knowing what someone thinks I think or feel and knowing they have it all wrong. I especially hate the feeling of not being able to explain myself well enough to be understood. I hate being sized up and mentally classified by someone I know sees me all wrong. I hate people thinking they know my motives or intentions or what I will do next when they really do not know me at all. I really, really hate these things. I hate being misunderstood.

Why am I bringing this up in a post about the Golden Rule? Well, because when I really sit and think about the Golden Rule, when I think about what I wish that others would do to me, this is what I think about. My ultimate wish for how I would like others to treat me is that they would really listen and take the time to understand me and until they do they would assume the very best of my motives and intentions and give me a huge benefit of the doubt and tons and tons of room to grow. Humble mercy, I guess, is what I would call it.

So with that in mind, how am I doing at following the Golden Rule? In a word? Horribly. I pride myself on being an excellent judge of character. I size people up in a moment and almost irreversibly make my mind up about them. I have never met a stranger I couldn't almost immediately classify. I am no better with non-strangers, with friends and loved ones. I assume I know them so well that I know their every reason for doing something and exactly what they will do next. I have a terrible habit of jumping to conclusions and leaving no room for the chance that I may be wrong about someone. This is a sad, sad picture of myself I am painting. But it is an all too accurate portrayal as well.

How ironic that the kind of treatment I desire most from my fellow man is the kind of treatment I can be so very stingy with; the exact kind of treatment I find it so difficult to offer to others. It reminds of a quote I heard once that was something like the sin you despise most in others is often the one you struggle with the most in your own life. That is not the exact quote, but it was something like that. I am wondering if anyone else has the same struggle. When you think about how you want to be treated by others, does what comes to mind kind of mirror one of your biggest struggles or weaknesses in the way you treat those around you? I would be interested to hear.

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