I remember that in my early years of grade school, all the teachers would work hard to teach us new lessons and ideas. Out of all the rules that were being jammed into our young minds, the most important one was “treat others the way you want to be treated.” Every day in the hallway I’d see these words printed on a poster that contained a man in white clothing holding a little boy, kids dressed in unique traditional clothing, and gentle, multi-colored expressions that gazed down at me from behind the frame. We were told that the words on the poster are the golden rule in life. As a first grader, I didn’t think much about this rule. I merely admired the colorful poster with the yellowish letters. All I understood from this symbolic poster was that I should be nice to people, no matter what color they are or what they wear, so that they will be nice to me.
As my grade school years progressed, I started to take less notice of the poster on the wall that I passed by everyday. It was just an old saying that no one really listened to. We were all divided into cliques and didn’t care what other people thought or said about us and they didn’t care what we thought or said about them. Occasionally a negative statement or joke about a classmate would slip and spread around the whole class. The targeted classmate would get hurt and try to defend him or herself with the help of friends. The jokes continued however, and no one stood up to stop them permanently.
In grade school, I thought bullying was stupid, but I didn’t think much about it. I wasn’t affected by bullying, but I comforted the friends who were. As I now recall those experiences, I look at them through the eyes of an outsider. By looking at my memories from a different perspective, I can see the harmful effects of bullying. The bullies in our class just wanted to poke fun at other classmates’ actions, behavior, and sometimes even background. Their actions really pulled down classmates and lowered their self-esteem. In response to the bullying, victims and their friends would develop feelings of hatred toward the bullies. This resulted in dividing our class even more than it already was.
I now know that “treat others the way you want to be treated” is not a golden rule just because it was written in dark yellow letters on an old poster. The rule explains a give-and-take relationship. It states that we must treat others fairly and respectfully in order to receive the same treatment. I believe that this is a valuable rule that applies to everyone and unites us as equals because it allows fair treatment for all people, no matter who they are. If more people followed this rule, there would be less hatred in the world and a better community. This I believe.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.