The Golden Rule

Just in case you didn’t know this about me, I was born and raised in the South, by two Southern parents. I was taught all of the good Southern manners, and was told quite often “Treat others the way you want to be treated.” Oh yes, my friends … that’s the Golden Rule. For years I lived by this very rule. I am a few days away from turning 34 years old and I feel like I have adapted the Golden Rule to something that makes a bit more sense to me and what I have learned in my life.

While I was in elementary school, I was nice to everyone and always smiled no matter what. I was also different from the other kids in many ways and since I went to a small private school, I didn’t really fit in. I was picked on relentlessly to the point where I had very little self-esteem left. However, I kept right on smiling and being nice even though I was hurting so much. Smiling and being nice wasn’t working for me, I had to find a different way. I learned not to hide my emotions and that it was ok to show how I was truly feeling. I didn’t have to smile and be nice when people were being mean and hurting me.

As I got older, I began to interpret the Golden Rule a bit differently. I thought if I treated people with kindness, love, and respect; then that is what I would get in return from them. Sadly, I learned that was not the case. When I treated people that way, there were some people who would return that behavior, then there were others who still treated me however they pleased no matter how nicely I treated them. This behavior I still don’t understand. I’m sure that I have trouble with this because I was raised in the South and that just isn’t how Southern Charm works.

Now, I’m aging even more and I have started to see that the Golden Rule has an even deeper meaning. I came to this realization sometime within the past 2 years. I have had many “friends” in my life, or at least I thought they were all my friends. However, what I have learned is that many people who come into my life are there for only a short period of time and while they are there they serve a very important purpose in my life. I have the type of personality where I like to keep all of those special people close to me forever. However, not everyone has the same view on friendship as I do. This has been a very challenging lesson to learn, and there are often times that I still struggle with this very problem.

When friends drift apart due to work, life, family, or other changes sometimes that causes them to not be able to keep in touch and have the same kind of relationship that they had before. I have always been the type to keep in touch and try to hold it all together no matter how many balls I’m juggling. However, many other people choose to allow that friendship to fade and not keep in touch. When there is a shift like this, I always do wish that we were close like we had been before. I also often wish that other people tried as hard as I do to keep in touch. I know, this isn’t always possible, but I like to hope for the impossible. No matter what though, I’m the type of person that even if we don’t talk all of the time, or see each other often, I will still be there for you as a friend when you need me. Once a friend always a friend in my book.

There is one exception to that though. If you choose to treat me or my loved ones with manipulation, hatred, disrespect and/or ugliness there is no reason for me to treat you with any kindness. Why should I go out of my way to treat you nicely if you are going to do everything you can to stomp on my kindness, spit on it and throw it out the window? This is where my version of the Golden Rule probably isn’t what I ever thought it would be. I still follow the Golden Rule each and every day, however, once that line is crossed … that rule still applies, but it has changed. I will only be as nice to you as I have to be. If life requires me to interact with you for whatever reason, then I will be cordial to you in order to make it through our interactions. But I will not go out of my way to be nice, do favors, or interact with you. There is no point in me going out of my way to be nice if all I will be met with is nastiness in return.

I know this is a very cynical point of view, and I hate that I have grown to have this point of view with anything in life. But I know that this perspective has gotten me through some difficult situations that I have been faced with in the recent past. Luckily, I have many people in my life who treat me with the same love and respect that I give to them. Sorry to go on a rant, but this topic has been on my mind a lot in the past few months due to another interesting situation that has appeared in my life. I am a positive person in almost every aspect of my life, so positive that it is almost a fault! Therefore, I give myself this one area to have a more cynical take. I figure I’m allowed to have this one area of imperfection, right? ;D

How about you? What do you think about the Golden Rule?

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