Why we need the Golden Rule

Every relationship will shine and glitter when you follow the Golden Rule

Men fighting with sword

If there’s one tenet that is common among all the major religions of the world, it is the Golden Rule. Stated simply, the rule urges us to treat others as we would like to be treated. The corollary of the rule is not to treat others in a manner that we would not like anyone to treat us.

Every relationship based upon this rule is guaranteed to glitter, be it between spouses, siblings, friends, businessmen, corporations and even entire nations.

Unfortunately, simple as it is to understand, the Golden Rule is not as widely followed. What is far more rampantly practised instead is another twisted, pernicious, tit-for-tat rule—treat others like others treat you! I call this the Rusty Rule. Rusty, because all it does is corrode the bonds it touches. It fuels such feelings as revenge, retaliation, punishment and justice at any cost. And the result is for all to see. For instance, one country bullies the other [flouts The Golden Rule], and the other responds in like manner [applies The Rusty Rule] and soon we have a full-blown war where everyone loses. But in spite of it being a lose-lose proposition, almost everyone defends the Rusty Rule, forgetting entirely that eye for an eye can only make the whole world blind.

A lose-lose proposition

A case in point is the 2012 tragic incident—a spat between Chadha brothers Hardeep and Gurdeep [Ponty] turned violent with both getting killed at their New Delhi farmhouse, a property that was apparently under dispute. According to news reports, while Hardeep shot his own brother in a fit of rage, he was in turn shot by Gurdeep’s personal security guards.

Clearly, not only the Golden Rule was flouted, the Rusty Rule was applied forcefully. The Chadha brothers became sworn enemies of each other—because each wanted to be treated in a way that he was not willing to treat the other. My guess is that even if one of them would have followed The Golden Rule, they would still be living. What’s more, in all likelihood, the other would have come around too, sooner or later, and the dispute would’ve resolved amicably.

While most of us are, thankfully, not involved in any major feud like the Chadha brothers, we do have ample opportunities in our daily lives to apply the Golden Rule. More often than not though, we end up following the Rusty Rule automatically when we react to others’ thoughts, deeds and actions. So many serious conflicts will be averted and so many relationships will be saved if only more of us adopt the Golden Rule as the default setting when dealing with others.

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Put yourself in the other's position

Do not underestimate the transformational power of the Golden Rule. Besides being the most effective way to forge lasting and meaningful bonds, it’s the best defuser of potentially explosive situations. How about trying out the Golden Rule in your life—with your family, at work, or even in traffic? If someone makes a mistake, even if it’s a terrible one by your standards, stop for a few moments, and try putting yourself in his/her position. Ask yourself: how would I like to be treated if I had committed the same mistake? Then proceed to treat the other accordingly.

Of course, we ought to remember also that we have no control over others. Which means, even if you follow the Golden Rule, the other may not reciprocate in kind. But that should not dissuade you from putting it into practice. For it may not change the other but it will transform you in ways you may not have imagined. And it will bring you peace of mind even as it fills your life with fresh energy.


This was first published in the December 2012 issue of Complete Wellbeing.

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