Do unto others

I do not participate in organized religious practices and have no affiliation or experience with attending at place of worship. My nuclear family celebrates Christmas with time together and food, Hannukah with candle lighting, friends and food, Easter with friends and food and Passover with more food and friends. There’s a theme building here and it corresponds to my waistline.

In my long ago undergrad days I took some courses on religion: Great Leaders of the Past;  Catholicism; Judaism; Buddhism; The Philosophical Foundations of Catholic Education; along with a spattering of political science, economics and women’s studies. When this gets mashed all together with psychology courses, family, local community, global community and career I often find myself thinking:

why do people treat each other how they do?

What pops into mind is ‘do unto others’ – three words that are overused and misused.


I struggle to operate within the context of our ‘anti bullying’ tattle-promoting culture that, on one hand encourages kids to ‘not bully’, to go for help (aka enlist an adult to fact find), and to police the behaviour of their peers, while on the other hand, has adults role-modelling bullying behaviour with our culture’s celebrity focus, athlete expectations and criticism, mud-slinging politicians, hypervigilance, saying things online that you’d never say to someone’s face, people pointing out all the mistakes people make just to make themselves feel smart, criticizing, acting superior, judging and fact finding to lay blame.

My eyes do that <roll up into my head I don’t understand I’m searching for thoughts> thing whenever words like ‘eradicate bullying’ and ‘anti bullying’ program come up.  We’re policing behaviour. What would be helpful is to move back to a fundamental tenet of many religions, spiritual practices, theories on psychological well-being and general humanity – do unto others. The idea is NOT to treat others how they treat you and get them in trouble. The idea is to treat others how you wish to be treated coupled with role-modelling respectful behaviour. (Hey adults – that’s our job!)

This would be a more productive way of being and will do more to diminish bullying behaviour than the bully police. Is this easy? Nope. Am I always successful? Nope. I default to flippancy which probably comes across as disdain far too often.

Role-modelling respectful behaviour includes:

  • not assuming that you know what the other person is thinking,
  • not assigning intent to another person’s thoughts or behaviours,
  • asking permission,
  • smiling, acknowledging, appreciating, understanding, walking away and being clear.

Not easy, folks.

How do I wish to be treated? Fairly. Honestly. Without judgment. With encouragement. As a unique human being. As a person who is forgiven of their faults, who makes mistakes and is acknowledged for my strengths. As a person who is deservedly here, in this space, in these local and global communities.

So that’s the bar I set for myself.


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