How can we teach our children to treat others the way they would like to be treated themselves?
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The Golden Rule...
The Golden Rule has been around for ages, although it was not always called that. Ancient philosophers, prophets, scholars, and other influential leaders taught and preached the basic elements of the Golden Rule. Clearly, the concept of treating others only in ways we, ourselves, would like to be treated does not take a lot of heavy thinking to understand how it might be considered an important creed to adopt in a world of unique individual personalities and character traits.
Those who first began to promote such thinking might well have been rejected by many of their peers, since it did not always meet with some of the thinking of their times. The old adage of "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth" (i.e., vengeance, revenge?) was pretty much the byword before people began to think about being concerned for the welfare of others.
The familiar story of Cain and Abel in the Holy Bible demonstrates the paradoxical struggles of humans attempting to understand why it might be important to think about others' welfare. In the book of Genesis, Cain asked God "am I my brother's keeper?", after he murdered his own brother, Abel. Cain, it seems, did not obey God, thus God was disappointed in him. God did approve of Abel, and Cain became jealous of Abel, and his jealousy drove him to commit murder.
Do unto others...
Recent television advertisements by CBS use the Golden Rule concept in an attempt to help curb bullying and similar behaviors that have become epidemics in our schools (and even in our workplaces, according to recent reports). In these ads, a young actor encourages parents to "teach your children to treat others as THEY would like to be treated"...and, that "bullying should not be part of a school's curriculum" (not necessarily verbatim).
While it is surely a sound philosophy to promote, I have a feeling that something very critical is missing in some of the ways we attempt to teach it to our kids. Namely, the living example that some of us adults show them in the ways WE treat others, or in some of the choices we make for entertainment...for ourselves and for them.
The CBS advertisement is probably a good thing...but it is only as good as what our kids see in real-time, real-life, by real adults that will make any real difference...at least in my (humble) opinion. Indeed, many of the advertisements that might follow the CBS anti-bullying advertisement might be one for a local attorney, who is encouraging people to "sue the pants off" (not verbatim) anyone who causes them pain, suffering, or other negative circumstances.
Yes, people need to be accountable for behaviors that are negligent or harmful to others, but I think some of the ways we go about "bringing them to justice" often looks more like seeking vengeance or revenge. If we adults encourage such attitudes, I think our children will get the message that it's "okay to treat others any way you want to, as long as you get what YOU want"; clearly not in line with the Golden Rule.
Back to the mirror?
So, perhaps we need to look again in our own collective mirrors to understand why our kids might think the Golden Rule has already been "repealed" -- by earlier generations (i.e., current adults, parents) -- because some of the messages they're getting (i.e., the CBS ad, etc.) simply are not backed up by some of the actions and behaviors they observe in some of us adults. Are WE behaving in ways that promote the Golden Rule ourselves? Do WE practice behaviors that exhibit the essence of the Golden Rule? Does our society, businesses, politicians, celebrities, or others in positions of authority and influence promote the Golden Rule through their examples? I'd like to think so, but I know different...and, of course, I include myself in this, too.
What do YOU think?
Do you think we should teach children the Golden Rule, or "an eye for an eye"?See results without voting
Do you think most adults practice the Golden Rule in everyday interactions with others?See results without voting
Do you think children are getting mixed messages from adults about how they should treat others?See results without voting
- The Golden Rule - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Wikipedia's explanation of the Golden Rule.
- Genesis 4 NIV - Cain and Abel - Bible Gateway
Cain and Abel - Adam made love to his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, With the help of the LORD I have brought...
- The Golden Rule - Variations of
Various adages and philosophical concepts similar to the Golden Rule.
- The Republic (Plato) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Plato is credited as being the first to put forth early concepts of the Golden Rule for societies.