01st Aug , 2017

Do you observe the Golden Rule or the Rule of Reciprocity?

The Golden Rule, as it is called, has been around for thousands of years and has traversed all of the great religions of the world. Its principle is timeless. While each religion has its own wording and claim as to its origin, it is not the property of any single one. It is, instead, a universal and philosophical concept which offers guidance and motivation to us so that we can use our minds—our imagination—in order to go within, examine our words, deeds, actions and motivations toward others and determine if they align with the very things we desire in return. But there is another rule seldom mentioned. And it is this rule
which is responsible for the failure of the Golden Rule’s triumph. It is called the Rule of Reciprocity. This rule states that people will treat others the same way they are treated. In other words, they mirror back to people the exact behaviors demonstrated to them. In other words, if someone feels he or she is
being spoken to in a nasty, demeaning manner, he or she will return the same.
So, while we all want to be treated nicely, kindly and with respect, why is it that we see far more examples of uncivil and rude behavior than we do kindness and goodness? It must be that the Rule of Reciprocity is far more applicable to our daily lives than the Golden Rule. After all, the Golden Rule merely states a fact and is not a moral commandment. It encompasses all of the thousands of moral “rules” that exist. It is the underlying factor which governs the effect of human behavior. It is proactive, not reactionary. It is a principle. This means that its apparent absence in society is not because it is flawed. It is because it is not practiced by all. Instead, the Rule of Reciprocity is the answer for the
seemingly failing Golden Rule. When someone speaks rudely to us, we generally will do so to them. If someone yells at us, we will most likely yell back at them. But when someone smiles and shows kindness, it is very difficult—if not impossible for many—to not return that very same thing.

When we awaken each morning and make our way throughout the day, we rarely realize how our words, deeds and actions are affecting others. The stress level of the average person today is extremely
high. I often wonder how people function at all. But if we don’t take that quiet time each day to relax, reflect and reduce the mental noise which fills our heads, we can never become aware of our words and actions. The world that exists within is far greater in size and scope than the one we see without. All
things have begun because of a thought. Thoughts evolve and then become things. The very things we each seek are happiness, peace, joy and the pursuit thereof. We dream of and hope for a world in which our greatest ideals become the foundations of our society. Therefore, let’s put our attention inward a little more often and ask ourselves if we are first upholding the principle of the Golden Rule or the Rule of Reciprocity. Observing the Golden Rule will invoke the Rule of Reciprocity—because treating others as
you wish to be treated will inevitably cause them to reciprocate. But, unless the Golden Rule is upheld, the Rule of Reciprocity will always be in force. And that could very well be a less-than- joyous thing. Especially if you are busy robbing others of their joy.

COLLECTION OF THOUGHTS BY BRIAN HAGGERTY

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