Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Golden Alliance

We all profess the Golden Rule, but too often we seem to live by the law of the jungle. Why is this so, and what can we do about it? Why doesn’t the Golden Rule work more often?

In the simplest terms:
  1. Fear is primal – it evolved to allow us to survive scarcity.
  2. The golden rule is intellectual
  3. Too often we are too scared to think straight.
Humans survived for millions of years by mastering the law of the jungle—kill or be killed. But the hopeful among us also preached and professed, in every major religion and culture, another rule, the Golden Rule—where we encourage ourselves to treat others as we wish to be treated, or better yet, as they wish to be treated

The golden rule is skittish and timid. Too often the law of the jungle scares off the golden rule, quickly sending it back into hiding. Shout “fire!” and the art gallery quickly empties. Set the threat level to orange and we gladly take our shoes off at the airport, distrust Muslims, buy guns, and approve additional defense spending. Brandish a gun and the high school is overcome with panic. The asymmetry is stunning, but we have the capacity for restraint, we can decide to avoid conflict. Eventually we learn to act for others instead of to others. We can learn to cope with abundance. How can we get there?

We can begin with a pledge to “treat others as they wish to be treated, to the best of my ability, every time, at every opportunity”. Then as we go about our lives we notice whenever we fail to follow the golden rule. Reflect on this and ask “why did this lapse occur?” Were we:
  • Unaware or unobservant,
  • Impatient, under time pressure, or overloaded,
  • Distracted, or preoccupied,
  • Fearful, intimidated, or coerced
  • Angry or vengeful,
  • Filling a traditional role within the organizational hierarchy structure,
  • Completing a transaction, negotiation, deal in progress, establishing a contingency, or square deal
  • Trying to "teach him a lesson",
  • Sometimes life is tough, contention for scarce resources limited options,
  • Complacent, exhausted, or habituated,
  • Greedy, embarrassed, self-involved, chose to cheat,
  • a victim of power-over (of you)
  • exerting power-over (by you)
We can keep a journal of each event. Record what happened, when, who, our immediate thoughts and actions, and our reflection on how we could have acted differently to have lived by the golden rule in this instance. Later we can review this journal and use it as an aid to our own learning and growth.

We can share our stories. We can share our own experiences and learning with others who want to live by the golden rule rather than the law of the jungle. We can choose a partner to encourage and assist us in keeping the journal, analyzing the journal, and encouraging each other to live by the Golden Rule.

As we learn more and gain strength from our experience, wisdom, and growing numbers, we can align our efforts, form an alliance, and begin to help others follow the Golden Rule. Eventually we can create a context, or at least a community, where fear mongering becomes unacceptable, and the golden rule is expected.

Together we can ensure the Golden Rule prevails over the law of the jungle.

No comments:

Post a Comment