Possibly the greatest guide to life ever written and it’s only ten words long. Some people say this quote, known as the “golden rule” is impossible because every person is unique and therefore wants different things ‘done unto them’. At the end of the day though there are certain things that are unanimously wanted and not wanted. Imagine a world where everyone followed this rule, it wouldn’t be perfect but it definitely wouldn’t be as nasty!
Some of the things you don’t want done unto you.
The harm principle states that you can swing your fists wherever you want (literally and metaphorically) until the next persons nose begins. No one wants to be harmed, no one likes getting murdered or being persecuted for harmless life choices.
Being unnecessarily humiliated. It’s not fun. If you are being arrogant and loud and you do something stupid perhaps it’s ok for someone to shed light on your foolishness. Someone throwing an egg at you in the middle of a nightclub tho? Not needed.
Getting your stuff stolen. No one wakes up to a house devoid of their TV, laptop and jewellery and thinks “o awesome”.
Have nasty things said behind your back. More and more I’m noticing how commonly accepted it is to “gossip” about a person, bringing someone else down does nothing for you and no one likes the thought of people trashing them behind their back. There are exceptions of course; me and my mates will talk about how funny it is that one of our friends seems to be perpetually losing everything he owns. We say it with love tho, he loses stuff because he’s constantly distracted, one of the things we love about him.
Some of the things you do want done unto you
Compliments. I genuinely feel uncomfortable when someone compliments me, I don’t know why but that doesn’t mean the little person inside me doesn’t go “yaay!”
Help/Friendliness. This is a big one; this spreads to helping your friend move house to helping a homeless person on the street eat to not bullying that kid that’s weird and socially awkward.
To be accepted and not be judged. This ties in with the one above, no one wants to be judged for life choices or who they are. Most people can’t really control who they are, they are products of the millions of micro events that they have experienced. A person who believes in the free market isn’t a cold blooded capitalists, it’s just what they believe. The only thing worthy of judgement is things which break the harm principle. But even then remember that life is hard and everyone is fighting their own battle (read the first quote in my blog if you want to dive further into that).
Faith is a beautiful and powerful thing, this is the story of the moment I came to realize the power of faith. When did you realize faith was a good thing? Or if you disagree, why do you think faith is bad?
Faith and religious belief in general is starting to get a bad name. Nietzsche said that with science we would eventually become Nihilists, we would believe in nothing. Atheism is Nihilism in action. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard someone say “Religion is indoctrination” or “Religion kills” I’d have enough money to buy something other than pasta or rice for dinner tonight. Those that don’t have faith see those who do as weak (they won’t admit it but I believe it’s true). They see the religious as people trying to answer hard questions with easy answers. Why are we here? Because God wants us to be. How should I live my life? The way God told me to. My father is one of these people.
So was I until one night four years ago, a night that would change my opinion on faith forever. I went to an engagement party, the bride to be was my girlfriends old school friend. The groom was a very attractive young man, like model-worthy, his bride was lovely and pretty but I’m sure a lot of people would scoff and say “he could do better” as if they knew anything about her. This automatically made me like the groom, it showed me he wasn’t vain. So the groom gets up and gave his speech, it was four years ago so of course I have to paraphrase but the words were so beautiful that I will never forget the jist. After the groom thanked his family and friends his face grew dark. He began to tell the story of how he became “lost” (his words). He spoke about how at 16 he was offered a football scholarship in Sydney (he was from New Zealand). He was a troubled youth and got kicked out of the school in less than a year. He fell in with the wrong crowd and by 18 he was heavily into drugs. He had been going out with the bride for a year at this point. One day when he was truly “lost in the dark” she told him that he either came to church with her that Sunday or he would never see her again, she couldn’t take it any longer.
Like all men who have found the love of their life, there was little he could do. He went to church that Sunday and this is where it got really beautiful. He said that when he walked into the church (hung-over) he saw the Church Deacon shaking hands with his fellow church goers. These words I will never forget,
“In those few seconds I saw a man that had it all, everything I wanted. Happiness, a loving wife, respect, he was a man at peace but most of all he was a man with faith, a man who believed in something bigger than himself”.
He told of how the Deacon came straight over to him (he was good family friends with the bride) and shook his hand, the groom was unable to speak. The deacon’s wife came over and hugged him and suddenly he burst into tears, in his words “I felt dirty, I felt that these people were clean and that I was disgusting” the Deacon grabbed his shoulder and said “Do not fear, you are with God now”. He said that in that moment he realised that God truly was with him, that he was not alone and that God’s plan had led him to that very moment, the moment of his salvation. By this point everyone in the backyard was crying, I was balling my eyes out, slightly embarrassed because I didn’t even know the people! I cried because I was finally realizing the beauty of faith. The backyard we were in? The Deacons. The two couples had become best friends despite a huge age difference but more wonderfully the groom had not had a drink or taken any drugs since that day (over two years ago). He was now second in charge of a small building company and he had not missed a Sunday at church since. He broke down as he thanked God, as he thanked his bride and his best man (the deacon) for showing him the light. He cried, the bride and deacon cried, everyone cried. It was one of the most beautiful moments in my life, witnessing a man who in just a few seconds said no to the dark and yes to the light.
I left that party with one thing burnt into my brain. Faith is beautiful. Faith did more for that 18 year old soul than any single person could ever do. I realized that all the bad things I had learnt about religion had nothing to do with the individual but with the Institution. True faith has nothing to do with anything but you. It is a thing which makes you a better person; no one becomes a better person by spilling blood or saying hateful things. These things come from the dark side of faith, where people try to push their faith on others or when people believe that their faith is the only true faith. Faith is about you and your desire to become a better person, whether it’s the ideals and morals found in the Bible or Koran or your own set, it does not matter. The only thing that matters is that you believe in something other than yourself and that you live your life in the face of these ideals, forever up for judgement, forever in pursuit of a better you.
Be kind; for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. Ian Maclaren
Most sensible people recognize that certain groups of people are fighting a tremendously hard battle. The homeless, starving children, single mums, the persecuted in general, they all suffer on a day to day basis. We are taught to be kind to these people, to give them empathy because their lives are hard (which I’m sure they are). Then all of a sudden this kindness stops, don’t have money problems? Good looking? Athletic? Well educated? You must be pretty happy then, and if you’re not then you’re a bit of a whinger hey. I remember walking to the bus and there was a woman in front of me blocking the sidewalk. She wasn’t overweight she just had ten shopping bags sprawling out of her arms. There was Gucci and LV and I didn’t recognize the rest but they all looked pretty expensive. I remember thinking “bah, rich house wife must love being able to buy anything she wants, what an easy life”. She called a friend (which looked difficult with all the shopping bags) and they spoke for about 10 seconds. She asked her friend if she wanted to catch up and get coffee because it had been so long. Her friend must have said no. She started to fumble words like “o ok maybe this…” but then got cut off, I don’t know what her friend said but it wasn’t nice or inviting. I kinda felt bad for her but didn’t take much notice of it. She finally got out of my way as she went to put her thousands of dollars of stuff in the boot of her M3 BMW. When i passed her I turned to check her out, I’ll never forget her face, not because she was beautiful (she was), but because her face was the definition of unhappiness. The poor woman looked miserable. It was at this moment MacLaren’s words hit me. Life isn’t easy, no matter who you are or where you’re from. Beautiful people deal with image issues and insecurity, intelligent people deal with their limitations, rich people deal with stress and loneliness. I’m not beautiful, intelligent, rich, starving, lonely or persecuted so what’s my battle? How about being mediocre, a battle I’m sure millions of first-worldians fight, how about living in a cruel world that you will never be able to impact? MacLaren’s point is simple, everyone is fighting their own battle and none of them are easy. They might be easy at times, they might be fun at times, but beneath everything there is a fight, there is a struggle, there is pain. So be kind! Not only in person but in thinking, do not judge and most certainly do not hate. “But what about a greedy banker who hoards millions?” what is your judgment of that person going to do? They are misguided, a product of the battle they face. Judgement does nothing to the misguided, it only strengthens their resolve. Be kind to the misguided, talk to them, tell them why they might be misguided, do it without judgement and maybe, just maybe, that person might realize the error of their ways. Be understanding and remember that from the most puppetish politician, to the greediest banker, to the poorest farmer, to the overworked in general. Everyone is fighting, everyone knows struggle.