The pre-teen “cleaned up” real nice and looked good in his new haircut. In fact, I was plum proud of my work. But, he was totally under-whelmed. In an attempt to get a smile, I said, “You really don’t need to be quite so excited about this haircut.” His mom laughed, but he didn’t.

After they left, another customer commented to the effect that the boy would likely have been happier about his haircut had it been his idea. “Probably so, I replied, “But apparently that was the golden rule in action. Mom had the gold. So she made the rule.”

After we enjoyed a laugh, I began to think more seriously regarding the real meaning of the golden rule. No question, in dealing with others, its value is as gold. Yet, few seem to really understand it, and even fewer apply it.

However, both the religious and non-religious have heard it: “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” Actually it’s a paraphrase of Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:12. But, religious considerations aside for the present, what do the words mean?

For certain, the principle involves something better than returning meanness for meanness, rudeness for rudeness or injury for injury. Yet, we somehow feel justified in personal or business relationships when we mistreat those who have mistreated us. In response to such, we might simply ask, “How’s that working for you?”

Your response might be, “It sure doesn’t work as well as when I am nice to others.” Indeed! Yet, in light of such we sometimes misconstrue the rule to mean that we should simply repay kindness with kindness. And, that’s certainly an improvement over rude for rude. However, it doesn’t require much of us. Most can be nice to those who are nice to them.

“Well,” one says, “I think I apply the golden rule by being a completely harmless person. I wouldn’t hurt anyone.” That’s great! The world certainly has room for a lot more harmless folks.

But, the golden rule is pro-active. It’s not what we don’t do. It’s what we do. And what we do, if we apply the rule, is treat others as we would like to be treated – without regard for what another has done to us or for us, and without regard for future repayment.

Tough to apply? You bet! In fact, oftentimes my failure in applying the rule disappoints me. But, we must keep trying, because the benefits are well worth the effort. Though it’s a rare person who truly understands the rule and consistently applies it in every relationship, that individual is generally rich in friendships, family and business relationships, good health and happiness.

BARBER-OSOPHY: Enrich your life with the golden rule.

Copyright 2004, Sumerlin Enterprises.

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Author's Bio: 

Terry L. Sumerlin, known as the Barber-osopher, is the author of "Barber-osophy," is a columnist for the San Antonio Business Journal and speaks nationally as a humorist/motivational speaker.