I was a precocious child. Challenge much? Daily. There are things I remember challenging like it happened just this morning.
I was raised in Church, a lot of Church since I went to private school. With daily visits to the school chapel, I often joke that I went to Church 6 days week, and twice on Sunday to make for the one day I missed. That means I was raised by the law of the “Golden Rule”. My mother would often say, “Remember, do unto others…”
I’m not sure how old I was when I challenged it. Being precocious, I was fortunate that my challenges were not considered “talking back” though I’m sure there were moments when my mother wished she could punish me for them. 😛 I was likely still pretty young, but one day when I was reminded of the Golden Rule and my expected adherence to it in my young world, I said, “Well, the Golden Rule says to do unto others as you would have them do unto you, right?” With a raised eyebrow, likely waiting for the other shoe to drop, my mother said, “Right….”
“Well”, I continued, “What if THEY believe in the Golden Rule too? Then they are treating ME as THEY want to be treated. So, I’m just giving them what they want. If someone is mean to me, then they must want me to be mean them“.
I’m sure in that moment I smiled. I’m equally sure that my mother didn’t, and that then there was moment when I was firmly reminded that I was a smart enough child to know that’s not how it works.
Years later, the idea of it has popped up more than once. Oh, how I wish it DID work that way. On good days, which is most days, I remember easily that it doesn’t. I continue to give even when I don’t receive in return. I continue to treat others with respect even if they don’t treat themselves, much less me, with any. When people need me, need support, need a place to stay or a hand to hold, I offer it, and I accept that it will not make me able to expect to receive the same in return if and when I am need. There is no control on anyone’s actions but your own, no doubt, and I struggle sometimes to not let the world change me despite the fact that I can’t change the world. Some days, I even struggle so much that I completely forget that you can’t play reverse psychology, self-justifying games with the Golden Rule. Just every once in a while, I convince myself that if someone treated me in some way then they MUST want to be treated that same way. You know what, though? It just makes me feel bad. If someone treats me poorly, I shouldn’t treat them poorly. Maybe, though, I just shouldn’t treat them any way at all. 😉