I used to believe in the Golden Rule. My hippie parents taught me to “treat people the way you want to be treated” and so I went forth into the world with the best of intentions for my fellow-man. I would show them respect and logically, I would receive it in return.
I soon realized the rule didn’t work that way. You don’t get back what you give. You can send out all the hugs and kisses and cakes and butterflies, but the world is not required to reciprocate.
This was a hard lesson for an impressionable Pisces like me. I couldn’t understand why I was being subject to so much abuse and torture from my peers. I was giving them love and understanding, they were giving me ridicule and disgust. Bullies and Opportunists preyed on my sunny disposition. To them, if I was fool enough to let them in, it was my own fault for getting emotionally robbed.
After being the unsuspecting victim for many years, I finally closed myself off. I stopped handing out the free kindness. I stopped expecting people to be nice to be because they wanted it in return. I wondered if I was the only moron who practiced the Golden Rule, or if there were other poor saps out there getting daily doses of disappointment.
Of course, internalizing all this didn’t create a better situation. I wallowed in my bitterness, wishing I could get all those good feelings, compliments, words of support back. I felt cheated. Like a good 20-something, I blamed my parents first for sending me out into the world like a lamb to the slaughter. Then since the world had shown their true colors to me, I figured it was going to me against them.
I lost hope in ever receiving kindness again. I expected to be treated like crap. I nearly failed my Public Speaking class because my entire philosophy was “Why should I try? They don’t give a shit about what I’m saying anyway.”
For most of my first 2 years of college, I was a hermit. I know, right? What a waste. For some odd reason, the campus LGBT group took pity on me. To this day I wonder if they thought I was a closeted Lesbian, and that was the reason for my utter misery. Sadly, they discovered I was just another angsty breeder with a ginormous chip on her shoulder.
I repaid them for their kindness by going to every Equality march, every drag show, every gay club & AIDS benefit I could . My faith in humanity was slightly restored. This bitterness pool was starting to drain.
Now that I’m on the brink of Thirty, I’ve been reminiscing the last decade and how I’ve grown (or regressed) in my belief in the Golden Rule. Now that I have a child, I understand why my parents taught me the way they did. Because you want your kids to be good people. This may be the Pisces in me, but I think everyone does. I mean, I doubt even the parents of serial killers and terrorists said to themselves “Hey, let’s see how BAD a person I can make my child.”
I want my daughter to treat people well. It will help her find friends, lovers and partners who truly care about her. It will make people want to be around her. It will show others how to act, and maybe make her a role model for younger kids.
But I know it will also make her a target. We live in a culture of competitiveness, not community. America is the land of “One Upping” your fellow bear.Your 15 minutes of fame are constantly at stake. You need to be the fastest, strongest and prettiest kid on the block in order to get where you want. We reward the top performers, not the top helpers, supporters and nurturers. I think living in this world breeds a sort of ruthlessness, ambitious body of people. It’s good to be tough-skinned. It’s good to roll with the punches.
Going from Rainbows and Sunshine to Faithless and Cold-hearted was the route I had to take in order to find middle ground. In other words, you try to teach your kid values and its up to them to decide if they are worth keeping . If they start off with none, well.. they don’t really have any other options, do they? I’m a big fan of giving my child options. I feel like she deserves that.
I can teach her to treat people the way she wants to be treated, but tell her that not everyone is going to feel the same way. That’s ok, because how other people act is not your problem. You control your own actions, help people when you can, and go on your own merry way.
I would love her to see the evidence of the Golden Rule, and find a partner who will treat her with all the respect and love she gives them. So far that has not happened for me, but I can always hope for my daughter, and not dwell in bitterness.