Wednesday 15th July 09:12

"The Golden Rule"

Hi everyone,

Not so long ago I was attending an Equality Awareness course as a participant. The trainer decided to play a game on us. She told us a story about a princess who fell in love against the wishes of her father the king who, when he discovered the liaison, had the lover beheaded. We were then each asked questions about the story. I was asked whether I thought the king was wrong in his actions and I made the mistake of assuming that the lover was a young man. The trainer and the other participants mocked and chided me in equal measure.

Afterwards, I wondered just what the point of equality awareness training was. I have no argument about training people to work respectfully with others. I'm just not sure about some of the methods.

One of the principles of working that I learned many years ago was the principle of the Golden Rule. This is the principle that you should treat others the way you want to be treated yourself. It's also known as the principle of reciprocity and has been around for a very long time. Aristotle mentioned it back in Ancient Greece, and it is a principle often stated in many of the world's major religions. Buddhism, for example, says that we should not hurt others in ways that we would ourselves find hurtful. Islam says that nobody truly believes until they wish for their brother what they would wish for themselves. Judaism warns against doing anything to others that you wouldn't do to yourself. And Christianity says that it is the law of the prophets that what you wish others should do to you, you should also do to them.

If you're writing an Equal Opportunities policy, the Golden Rule is a good place to start.

With this in mind, I wondered whether an equality diversity course shouldn't also contain something about the principles of the Golden Rule, such as...

1. be kind to others, even when they are cross or cruel to you.

2. don't wait for others to treat you the right way before you treat them right. Take the first step. What you get is what you give.

3. remember the bad things others did to you and never do them to others; remember the good things that others did to you and do them to others always.

4. whenever you feel bad about others because of who they are or what they have done, press the Cancel button before your emotions get the better of you.

5. learn to be mentally courageous; when you feel like putting someone down, be strong enough to change your thoughts and give them the benefit of the doubt.

6. swap feelings of fear and defensiveness with feelings of openness and vulnerability.

7. use the Golden Rule not just with those who have been traditionally disadvantaged because of the group they belong to, but with anyone with a different disposition, a different story, and a different personality from you.

If we learnt and applied these rules, there's a good chance that we wouldn't need equality training ever again. We'd simply have to follow the advice from Bill and Ted in the movie, "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure": "Be excellent to each other!"


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