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null 'Golden Stories': Reflections on the Golden Rule from our network participants


“Living in Geneva, public transport is a pretty essential part of life. I always make sure that whenever I’m on the bus, or before I sit down, that no one else needs the seat more than I do, be it an elderly person, or a pregnant women, or someone with crutches, etc. We’re often so preoccupied with our phones or books that we sometimes don’t even realise that someone could be in need. It’s nothing extravagant, but it’s my personal way of treating people in a way I would hope someone would treat me if I was in a similar situation.”

“When I open and pass a door (e.g. in a supermarket), I always pay attention to the people coming from behind or in front of me and hold the door for them, not just passing them by. This, I believe, is a type of respect and consideration for others even if we do not know them. I also appreciate when someone does the same for me without, of course, forgetting to say ‘Thank you’.”

“I remember as a small child sharing a treat – a chocolate bar – with my brothers and sisters, we came from a family of limited means. I fondly remember sitting around the kitchen table as our mother cut the bar into equal portions. On one occasion, my bigger brother, unprompted saw that his piece was bigger than mine. He immediately took the knife, and cut a piece off his, and gave it to me, thus rectifying the issue. I am always reminded of the pleasure he took in sharing. I too remember this, and I always am conscious of the pleasure I can take personally by sharing what you have with others, whether it is a chocolate bar at lunch time, or a meal… To share is rewarding for both parties.”

“In some countries there is such a need for food and here in the West there is so much food wastage.  Whenever I prepare a meal I try to always use only what is necessary as to avoid wasting food.”

“I am reminded nearly every day as we raise our three teenage boys that understanding and practicing the Golden Rule requires a level of maturity that goes beyond the seeming simplicity of doing as you would be done by. The question that passes my lips after the cry, ‘Mum, he hit me’, is ‘How would you feel if someone did that to you?’ ‘I would feel fine, he is just a cry baby’, is the reply that most often comes back when it is perfectly clear to me that real harm has been done and that he would not feel fine at all. The Golden Rule as a motivation for action doesn’t get much of a look in just yet; polite requests to help out are met with ‘No, why should I? What’s in it for me?’ If only they knew, as one day I trust they will, how much pleasure it gives to do for others what we would like to have done for us, that consideration and kindness are not only never lost but come back to us a hundredfold.”

“As a student of philosophy, I first followed the school of ethical philosophy of phenomenology (Scheler, Husserl, etc.) with great enthusiasm, which bases ethics on an analysis of lived experience, empathy and compassion, that is, a basic understanding of the Golden Rule. In the midst of my studies, however, I was caught up in the concrete constraints of life, meeting a sick person who no longer had the ability to feel correctly the relationship to the other, as it is the case in schizophrenia. How can we continue to live with others when we share the same space, but that person isolates himself from a common world of experience (which philosophers call koinos kosmos)? My bachelor thesis in philosophy focuses on an anthropological approach to mental illness, describing how it distorts our experience of empathy and presence to the world, and therefore the very possibility of applying in its relationship to the other the precept practice of the Golden Rule (or rule of compassion).”

“A smile is infectious. In the Asian culture, it’s important to be mindful of others and a result of that is to smile. Also, respect is important to me, so I always to be respectful of the feeling of others and to be kind.”

“Saying ‘I am sorry’ has become meaningless, or a routine sentence. For me, saying sorry means deep down that I really ask for forgiveness for whatever I did, whether it was something by mistake or intentional, therefore I have to really mean it. So, in return, I expect the person I ask forgiveness to also know that I am sorry as much as. I try my best to put some weight behind and real meaning to when someone else tells me they are sorry. This promotes trust and true forgiveness.”

“It's very easy to judge one another based on appearances, but beyond the surface of one's own carefully constructed image we're all just people. I try to treat everyone with dignity, regardless of the way someone looks because dignity isn't something that needs to be earned—that's what community is all about."

"One time there was a new student at school. She was timid and shy but a very kind girl. During lunch she would sit by herself because she did not know anyone. I decided to take my friends to her table and accompany her for lunch. After this day she began to integrate with other students rapidly. Years after when I was finishing Highschool, I transferred to a new school. I too was a new student sitting alone at lunch for the first day. Lucky for me, the students at this school joined my table when I sat alone! This shows the golden rule is universal no matter where you are or where you're from."