The “Golden Rule”—Proof of Wisdom
EARLY last winter in the Columbia Heights section of Brooklyn, New York, a middle-aged man was seen hurrying to his auto just as a policeman fastened a green ticket to his car because of a parking violation. Outraged, he gave vent to a volley of intemperate, angry words, which the policeman ignored as he kept walking away. What had the car owner gained by his outburst? Nothing; he merely added to his own bad feelings while setting the policeman against him.
How different the instance of the English missionary in Lagos, Nigeria! Upon coming to his parked auto one day there stood a dark-skinned native officer who took him to task for parking his car where there happened to be a No Parking sign, which, however, had been put there only the day before. The officer asked for his identification cards, and as he copied off the information he kept up a tirade on the seriousness of the offense.
All of a sudden the officer looked up with a puzzled expression on his face as he asked, “You don’t abuse me?” The missionary replied, “Why should I? You’re just doing your job.” Eyeing him rather curiously, the officer asked, “And what may be your job?” “I am a missionary, one of Jehovah’s witnesses,” was the answer. Obviously he had not expected that reply, and at once the tone of his voice changed. The conversation led to the Bible, with the upshot that the two parted as friends but only after arrangements had been made for the missionary to study the Bible with the officer. Obviously it paid this missionary to treat the officer as he himself would have wanted to be treated.
How easy it is to forget that an officer, guardian or usher might be fully aware of the way you feel and may not be at all happy about what he has to do in the line of duty, such as enforcing restrictions, regulations or making out a ticket for some traffic or parking violation! His is not an easy job. Do not abuse him for carrying out his trust nor try to pressure him to be unfaithful to it. Why not, rather, make it easier for him by being respectful, courteous and considerate, for is that not the way you would want to be handled if you were in his place? In doing so, you will make it not only easier for him but also more pleasant for yourself. We cannot work at making things more pleasant for others without feeling better for it ourselves, if not also being rewarded in kind.
Yes, heeding the so-called Golden Rule, “Just as you want men to do to you, do the same way to them,” is not only the just and right thing to do, the loving and kind thing to do, but it is also the wise thing to do. In fact, Jesus Christ, who gave to men the positive form of the “golden rule,” stressed this very point when he said, in the same connection: “Practice giving, and people will give to you. They will pour into your laps a fine measure, pressed down, shaken together and overflowing. For with the measure that you are measuring out, they will measure out to you in return.”—Luke 6:31, 38.
The “golden rule” gets at the core of human relations; and the problem of human relations, as noted by such scholars as Pitirim A. Sorokin of Harvard University, is the foremost one facing mankind. As one comment on New York City’s newspaper strike well put it: “How is it possible that any civilization so advanced can place a man in space, yet cannot build good faith and trust between an employer and an employee?”—Wall Street Journal, February 14, 1963.
How is it possible? It is possible because people today do not believe in doing to others the way they would have others do to them. Their lack of faith in God and their shortsighted selfishness blinds them to the wisdom of the “golden rule.”
Look where we will, we will find that following the “golden rule” is proof of wisdom. The waiter, the clerk or the salesman who handles his guests or customers in the way he would like to be handled by them is bound to be more successful than the one who is indifferent. Likewise the guest or customer who handles the waiter, clerk or salesman as he would like to be handled is far more likely to get good service than the one who treats such employees as mere servants.
In particular does this principle apply to married folk because of their continuous, close, intimate relationship. The more thoughtfulness, consideration and affection each shows the other, the more of these each is likely to receive from the other. So when one recognizes that the other is holding back thoughtfulness or affection, it is well to ask, “To what extent am I merely receiving back what I am handing the other?” If both heeded the “golden rule,” the situation would never deteriorate to desertion, separation or divorce, not to say anything about marital unfaithfulness. And certainly such things are not conducive to happiness.
Nor may parents overlook this principle simply because God’s Word requires that their children obey them. The Bible also says: “Fathers, do not be irritating your children.” (Eph. 6:4) By needlessly irritating his children, a father works against the best interests of both. Early in 1963 the radio told of a teen-age son who stabbed his father to death because of a rebuke. Apparently that rebuke was the last straw. Not that any irritation justifies murder of one’s father, patricide. But, doubtless, had the father given thought to not needlessly irritating his son, he would still be alive. This principle, incidentally, might be said to be applicable to all whose prerogative it is to give rebukes. Give it in the way you would receive it, and you are more likely to benefit the one receiving it as well as keep his love.
And in all this note that the “golden rule” requires you to take the initiative. It is not ‘Do to others as they do to you.’ No, but ‘You do to others just as you would have them do to you,’ and that regardless of what they may do. That is wisdom, divine wisdom. Heed it for your own well-being and happiness.