How to Practice the Golden Rule

When I asked my friends the other day, what they thought the golden rule was they looked at me bewildered. I do not believe I was speaking another language, so yes I was surprised to discover they really had no clue what I was talking about.

The golden rule states:

“Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31 NIV).

Where I grew up though, it was more like, do it to others before they do it to you. A rough neighborhood and kids being kids, we did not have any sense of what was right and wrong.

All joking aside, another translation is: do to others as you would have them do to yourself.

But what if you hate yourself? What then? Does this mean you ought to hate others as you hate yourself?

The golden rule is not talking about that. It is not saying, first take care of your self-esteem then look after everyone else. Because it would be easy to duck responsibility, to sit in a dark hole somewhere and wallow in misery while life passes us by. On the contrary, the golden rule promotes active participation in the lives of others, and a byproduct of that participation is happiness.

A lack of self-esteem comes from guilt. Guilt causes depression, which then leads to thoughts of doing unimaginable things to the self. The fallen angel of light knows this and wants God’s children to live useless lives contemplating on the sins they have committed.

However, we do not need to worry about any of that. God has sacrificed his son Jesus so that we do not have to pay for our own sins (John 3:16). Now when we commit sin, we experience short-term guilt, which leads to repentance (2 Cor. 7:8-10). And that is an awesome thing. No longer is worthiness an issue. Nothing we can do can earn us salvation. God has given it to us freely through his grace (Eph. 1:7).

Knowing this, practicing the golden rule then becomes part of our nature.

It would be easy for us to share of our blanket with someone who is cold. We would not have a problem rationing half of our dinner with someone who is hungry. And we would be happy to provide a portion of our drink to someone who thirsts.

The homeless would have homes. The sick would be well. And the poor would have a share to give. For as we see others in their time of need, we would see ourselves.

Small acts of kindness change people. If everyone practiced the golden rule, the world would be a changed place.

What Would You Do?

The apocalypse has happened. It’s not what you expected. Zombies have taken over the world. It’s up to you to survive. Will you?

City of the undead
City of the undead

For today’s Monday Mayhem, I’d like to ask a question. It’s a simple question.

What would you do?

Everyone has a notion one would know what to do when confronted with the inevitable decision of taking a life to save another or oneself. But I ask, would you be capable of such an act? Morality plays a big part in the decision making process. What if the guilt is so unbearable that you couldn’t do it? What if the very person you had to remove from existence was your brother? Your sister? Your mother? Your father? Would you?

Remember, the world has fallen under a full-blown zombie apocalypse. You don’t know if the condition your loved one is suffering is temporary or permanent. You have no clue as to the status of the government’s involvement to finding a solution to the condition. You have no idea whether it will be ten minutes before someone walks in to present a solution. Ten hours. Ten days. Or even ten weeks. For all you know, your loved one has become one of the changed and you have a choice to make.

What would you do?

Alone with the undead
Alone with the undead

Would you take the life of your loved one in order to save yourself, the rest of your family or anyone else who is not your family but appears to have evaded the condition that has made the person banging at the door one of the changed?

I’ve concluded that I wouldn’t know what I’d do if confronted with such a decision. If the person I love turns on me because of the change, then I will have quite a time justifying the death if I don’t know what caused the condition in the first place. My problem is also a moral dilemma, since I would still see the person as he or she was before becoming one of the undead. Moreover, to add salt to the misery, I would probably do my best to protect the victim of the condition as a means to prolong their life until I was sure there isn’t anything else I could do for them.

Like I said, for me it would be a moral decision, regardless of who it is. I would have to be good and sure there would be no looking back before I take a knife to the evil that has invaded the victim.

I know, it is strange, and I agree. After all, I write about zombies. Getting rid of them in fiction is very different from living through the process of guilt inhibiting every crevice of my heart. But the idea of taking a life because they pose a threat may seem premature to me if I don’t have all the facts at my disposal.

Then again, I could be wrong, in which case I would have to reevaluate the criteria I would use to save my family.

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What would you do?

Toxic Perfectionism

I have a confession to make. I’m not sure if this is the right forum to admit this, but I’ll give it a shot. I’m going to write this in stream of consciousness without editing any of it. Let’s see how far I get for this Freedom Friday post.

Toxic Perfectionism
Toxic Perfectionism

The confession. If you haven’t figured it out from the title, I was a perfectionist. When I say that, I mean it in the strictest sense of the word. Thankfully, a decade or so ago, I had put it all away and I’m happier for it.

Being a former perfectionist allows me the liberty to recognize when others are suffering from the same debilitating condition. The unfortunate thing about it is not having the power to prevent them from causing harm to their neighbors or themselves. It’s like seeing someone holding a baseball bat over a brand new convertible and waiting for that person to trash it because it’s not a Rolls Royce.

You see, perfectionism convinces sufferers they’re not worthy. Strange, I know. Bear with me. Perfectionists always compare their situation with others, and in so doing, they minimize their achievements because they’re convinced the other guy has it better. Remember that saying? How does it go? Oh, yes, “The grass is always greener on the other side.” Thing is, it’s not. It’s an illusion. The Joneses show you what they want you to see. But what you don’t see are their heavy debts, the fighting that goes on behind closed doors, and the screaming kids. Perfectionists can’t keep up with the Joneses because The Joneses will always be one step ahead.

Then there’s the guilt. That guilt is the driving force behind the life of a perfectionist. Without it, they’d be like everyone else—relatively normal. But why the guilt? Simple, guilt causes perfectionists to set unattainable goals based on unrealistic expectations. A case in point is the guy who graduates college and a week later expects to score a job. Sorry, real life doesn’t work that way, unless you’re a drop out and found your own company like Bill Gates did, but that’s a story for another day.

The worst part about having been a former perfectionist is knowing I had gone through life thinking nothing was ever good enough. It all goes with not feeling worthy, comparing myself with others, and the guilt. It’s that “not good enough” feeling, which kills the most. As wonderful, happy and joyful life is, if perfectionists feel not as good as required, it doesn’t matter what happens in their life, they will always feel inadequate.

Perfectionists can’t survive without knowing they’re in control.

As I’d mentioned, it’s been a decade or more since I’ve given up perfectionism and, let me tell you, it’s been like someone had thrown the light switch. What a difference. Life is not about being perfect. It is not about others having more than we do. It is not about feeling unworthy, not feeling good enough, and feeling guilty every moment we take a breath. In all honesty, no one can control every situation, but it sure makes sense to want to try. Funny thing about it is what makes sense to a perfectionist is wrong.

That’s how I broke the habit, going against myself to want to be who I am without the turmoil. Now, I’m happy knowing I’m always giving my best regardless of how I feel. It’s a matter of maturing. It’s a matter of living.

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Do you know perfectionists in your life? What is it that has affected you most knowing them?