God bless the whole world.
It’s one of my favorite bumper stickers and reminds me of the “Golden Rule”… that lovely maxim that crosses so many cultural and religious borders. Also known as the Ethic of Reciprocity, this idea to “love your neighbor as yourself” is certainly a simple idea but not necessarily one without difficulty.
One very important aspect to this rule is the assumption that you love yourself. This is the essential starting point without which this moral code collapses upon itself. Before we can reach beyond ourselves we need to create a strong foundation of care and love for ourselves. Without this stable core of love we are like a house of cards… impressive in our feats but easily tumbled by a small disruption. It is very tempting to try to gain acceptance and love from others by spreading ourselves too thin and caring for others before caring for ourselves. Think of how much more of a positive impact we can have if we eat well, exercise appropriately, and tend to our mental and spiritual well-being. Love and peace will flow more easily from a center of stability.
The Golden Rule hopes to turn this inward love out upon the world in every interaction we have. So many people complicate their lives with hierarchies and multiple-standards. It is simpler to treat everyone with dignity and respect than to try to keep straight all of the prejudices that so many people struggle to hold in their mind. It definitely takes less effort to realize everyone as an equal human being than to go through a mental file of “what class/culture is this person a part of and how do I treat those who seem to be a part of this different group”.
Essentially, to simplify our relationships with others we need to treat everyone, (ourselves included), with love and respect. A simple premise, a simple thought, but one that does require effort and diligence.
Look to this day!
For it is life, the very life of life.
In its brief course lie all the verities
And realities of our existence:
The bliss of growth,
The glory of action,
The splendor of beauty;
For yesterday is but a dream,
And tomorrow is only a vision.
But today, well lived,
Makes every yesterday a dream of happiness
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well, therefore, to this day.
(3rd Century B.C.E.)
Take a few minutes in this seasonal time of darkness to look inward and discover what your “self” needs to feel restored. Plan ways to incorporate these things into your life. By scheduling time for your personal renewal you will be more available and present for helping others in your life.