This I Believe

Steven - Cambride, Massachusetts
Entered on December 6, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: golden rule

Like most people, my teacher taught me the golden rule on the first day of kindergarten. “Treat others as you want to be treated” — a statement that has become so commonplace that it typically accompanies a sarcastic tone. Yet, as a DJ in a particularly wealthy area, a number of my clients have bossed my staff and me around, considering us a puppet to their every command. Every time I deal with clients with this mindset, I wonder if they have taught their own children the importance of the golden rule. I think that many of them applaud the golden rule in theory but do not practice it as a part of their everyday life.

As a business school student, one of the first things I was taught was how to work with customers and suppliers. Initially, I learned to always look out for the customers’ best interest, remember their wants, to listen when they speak, incorporate their demands into my business strategy, and treat them like royalty. Yet, as I shifted toward learning supplier “management” the courses tended to applaud companies who gain master-like control over their suppliers’ operations. Furthermore, I’ve been taught that motivating one’s own employees is important to increase productivity and reliability; yet, I never hear that these people deserve to be treated well simply because they are people too; the employee becomes a commodity. This mindset ignores that everyone has past experiences, present emotions, and future aspirations — regardless of their place on the supply chain.

Though cliché, I believe that everyone deserves the same level of respect and dignity that I would expect returned to me. I try to remember that we are all part of a larger community, and even my small actions can have a large effect on someone else’s life. I think it is important to get to know the night-time janitor, to reassuringly smile at a waitress who drops the dishes, and to leave the mailman a Christmas card. Though these actions may not directly affect bottom-line economic profits, each of them makes a fellow human being’s day a little brighter. And this is the profit that truly matters. If for nothing else, showing a child that their parents also obey the golden rule will convince future generations that this truly is a beneficial standard, and not something to mention sarcastically.

I think it is important to see the golden rule as more than a theoretical kindergarten lesson to be forgotten in everyday adult life. Given how little effort it takes compared to the benefits it can confer, this rule should act as a guide for every action and decision. I believe that it is so important to follow the golden rule that, perhaps, its name should be upgraded to platinum status. Maybe this would serve to remind the world that everyone is just an individual part of a much larger global community, composed of people with similar thoughts, feelings, and aspirations.