This I Believe:
Everyone in this country needs to take a course in courtesy, considerate behavior, and the Golden Rule.
From the richest to the poorest, from the most common to the most elite, every single person, myself included, needs a crash course in how to treat your fellow man.
The Golden Rule states: Do Unto Others as You Would Have Done Unto Yourself. Treat others as you want to be treated. I really think the idea of this rule has gotten lost somewhere. I mean, I live in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and it’s appropriate that when I once picked up a book titled, “Everything I learned about polite and courteous driving in Boston,” the pages were blank. Drivers cut each others off, turn from incorrect lanes, run red lights. Pedestrians don’t watch for oncoming traffic, or go just as the light turns green, and then look in shock when someone honks at them.
When you walk into a public restroom, do you do so with trepidation? The fear that someone before has not flushed, or not quite hit the target? And Heaven forbid that all necessary supplies like soap and water are available. I once encountered a gas station attendant who deliberately kept soap out of the restroom because he got tired of people using the restroom without buying anything. What? He’d rather clean up the potentially filthier bathroom later than give people the opportunity to stay clean and healthy?
What I am saying is not for one race, culture, class, ethnic group, or any other kind of group. I am not so great than I can look down on anyone. I’m sure I need this education I’m describing as much as the next man. I’m just tired of people acting without consideration for the feelings of the people around them. Whether it be someone smoking right outside a public building, or someone driving a car with music blaring at headache-inducing levels, or someone talking on a cell phone in an otherwise quiet environment like a restaurant or library, I have to ask them something. Is this how they want others to treat them? Is there a possibility that someone wants to get a headache from someone else’s music played at high volume? That someone wants to start coughing because he smells something noxious to his system? That someone wants to have their personal enjoyment disrupted by someone else’s inconsiderate behavior?
I don’t really think so. I don’t think such thoughts goes through people’s minds. I believe that we have reached a point where we see so many people not being considerate of others, that we as a country feel that none of us need to be. People feel let down, discouraged, and powerless to change anything. I think it is this last point that leads to everything else. Feeling powerless. Powerless to change your standing. Powerless to change your wealth. Powerless to change your environment. Powerless to change your government. Powerless to change anything for the better. And since people feel powerless, people behave as if it doesn’t matter enough to make the effort to be considerate. After all, what would that change? A lot, I hope.
I mean, recently I held the door at a bank for someone as she was getting out of her car. She smiled, and said, “Oh thank you. You’re so nice! Are you from Mars?” Mars? Sometimes I feel like I must be. We are always stressing the differences between us. Sex, Race, Religion, Politics, Class, Income, Clothes, Education, Language, and many more. Yes there are a lot of categories, subcultures, groupings, and varieties of people. But that shouldn’t stop each and every one of them and us from being good to one another.
This I believe: what we need to stress, now more than ever, is what we have in common while celebrating our differences. We breathe. We eat. We move. We talk. We hear, see, smell, taste, and touch. We think. We feel. Each and every one of us does this. I know that no one likes being told what to do. I’d like to believe that I could get this message across without telling you what to do. So I’ll just ask you to think: “Is this how I want things to be? Can I do anything different to make a difference?” Some people are apathetic. Some people believe in making a global change. You know what? Start small. Treat one person more decently than you would have before. It’s not easy. But it feels good. I won’t tell you how to do it. This I believe: Each and everyone of us has the capacity to follow the Golden Rule. I believe we should concentrate on this a lot more than on how to make the gold.
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