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Treat people how you want to be treated essay help

Jun 15, 2018

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Treat others the way you want to be treated.

This is the golden rule. The core message of nearly every significant spiritual text. The foundation upon which political ideologies and laws are built.

It’s very simple in theory. If everyone followed it, laws would be unnecessary. Quality of life would skyrocket for everyone. We can all objectively agree that the more people who follow this philosophy, the better the world we live in becomes. But how many people do you know that actually make a true effort to practice it in real life?

If we all believe it, why don’t we all do it?

I believe there are two main things holding us back: Laziness and fear.

Laziness holds us back in the form of short-term thinking. Deep down, we know what is best for us and for the whole alike. But sometimes, we just don’t feel like putting in the effort to do it. Taking the time to really think about how another living being might experience reality in order to empathize with them is too often an unfortunate casualty of fast-paced cultures.

Fear holds us back in much more profound ways. We might not do the right thing even when we know it’s wrong, because it goes against the beliefs of the groups that accept us. 

When people keep their mouths shut and follow a chain of command during systematic human rights abuses, they likely know what they are doing is wrong. They are likely terrified of ending up in the crossfire themselves, and are too often willing to compromise their beliefs to avoid this fate. Better you than me, we think (as we abdicate ourselves of responsibility). This is how groupthink, or blind obedience, ruins entire communities and societies.

In friendships and romantic relationships, this issue takes the spotlight. Every miscommunication, every petty fight, every act of unfaithfulness is the partial result of being too lazy and fearful to go outside of oneself to see the world through another person’s eyes. 

Sometimes we will even put on a good act and lie to ourselves to pretend as if we are looking at someone else’s life through their eyes, but we use rosy colored glasses. This is false empathy, or fempathy. This allows us to justify overlooking the difficult parts, the things we’ve been lucky to never have to deal with, that cause their perspective to be different from our own. 

This can create a downward spiral within a culture. I need to cover up to prevent myself from being hurt again. I won’t take down my walls. I’ll hurt you before you hurt me.

There’s only one way I know to break this chain. That is to be vulnerable. To treat others the way you want to be treated, even when you highly doubt that they will do it in return. To be a person of your word, always. To not let people down. To go beyond the level of kindness and generosity that others have ever seen or have come to expect. To give people one more chance than you may even feel they deserve. To have the strength to remain open, even when the world seemingly does everything in its power to muscle you away from your genuine core.

I don’t always treat others the way I want to be treated. But I really, really do try. I hope you do too.

About my book: 

It’s All My Fault: How I Messed Up the World, and Why I Need Your Help to Fix It

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My book peaked at #25 on Amazon’s Best Seller List for Social Activist Biographies. If you help it get to #1, Oprah and Stephen Colbert will tell boatloads of others to read it - generating millions of dollars - and then we can use the money to build tiny home communities and get people off the streets. Find it here.

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You need to overcome the tug of people against you as you reach for high goals. George S. Patton

“If we are to live together in peace, we must come to know each other better.” ~Lyndon Johnson

A while back, I told a friend that I try to follow the old adage “Treat people how you wanted to be treated.” He responded that he tries to treat people how they want to be treated. This really got me thinking.

I’ve always tried to gauge people’s needs by relating to them—by seeing myself in them, and giving them what I would want if I were in their shoes.

It never occurred to me consider how I differ from them, and how their wants may differ, as well.

This friend of mine, he values connection and support, just like everyone else, but he’s not someone who likes to talk about his problems at length. In fact, he prefers to get things off his chest and then move on, instead of dwelling on things that bother him.

A mutual friend of ours enjoys dissecting a problem from every angle. If he treated her how he likes to be treated, he may try to help her let go and move on quickly, as that’s how he does things.

But he doesn’t treat her that way. Instead, he simply listens until she’s done talking, because he understands that she appreciates that.

He understands that what works for him isn’t necessarily what works for everyone; and that there is no right or wrong when it comes to the support we want from other people.

What a beautiful way to be there for someone—to try to ascertain what they value in a friendship, and then provide it, without question or judgment.

I’m not suggesting we enable people when they’re compromising their emotional well being, or facilitate codependent relationships by giving in to unhealthy requests.

I’m suggesting we can make the world a better place by meeting people where they are and instead of assuming that’s where we are.

It’s recognizing when someone wants space, even if you’d prefer to be surrounded by people in a similar situation.

It’s realizing when someone wants vocal appreciation, even if you’d feel uncomfortable with that kind of attention.

It’s moving beyond empathy to understanding, and building stronger relationships in the process.

We are so similar, and yet so different. Sometimes connection is seeing ourselves in each other. Sometimes it’s stepping outside ourselves, and honoring what we see.

Photo by Alex [Fino] LA

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