A Refresher On The Golden Rule
In just the first month of this spring semester I have heard multiple stories of friends backstabbing one another, saying hurtful things, or starting fights. More than ever, I have seen people break each other’s trust and kick their friends while they are down. “These are people in their 20s acting like children,” one girl said to me. Except, in reality, children treat their friends with much more kindness than the people I have been hearing about recently. My reaction to these stories is always a look of surprise and something along the lines of “I can’t believe that.” Unfortunately, the response I often get is, “I’m not that surprised.” This got me thinking about a bigger issue: Why are we not surprised? Why does such unkindness not get more of a reaction? Why are we so used to people treating us badly that it doesn’t even phase us anymore?
The conclusion I came to is that we have completely swept the concept of kindness under the rug. When you describe someone as “nice” people think you are being vague. “Nice” goes completely unnoticed, as people are more focused on other qualities that might seem more impressive. I personally think we should turn that around.
Being nice is an amazing quality to have and it’s not as common or ordinary as one might assume. We are slowly forgetting about having good manners at all. If you pay attention, you may notice that “please” and “thank you” don’t come out of many people’s mouths anymore. That’s really disheartening. It doesn’t take much effort to be polite. It isn’t that difficult to act respectfully. The difference between a sentence with a “please” and a sentence without is huge. A simple “thank you” can make someone’s day. People are affected by simple manners much more than we stop to think about.
When you are a Girl Scout in elementary school, they teach you to treat others how you wish to be treated. The fact that fully grown adults can’t even follow such a simple guideline is upsetting. What I really want to know is, when did we lose that view? What happened to the days when our moms would sit us down and make us write thank you letters after our birthdays? We were all taught manners earlier in our lives, so at what point did we decide they don’t matter?
Regardless of the circumstances, it is always possible to treat people respectfully. Many will use the excuse of “I’m just going through a tough time,” but that does not really give you the right to behave poorly and be rude to others. We need to take a step back and look at the big picture. The world would be a terrible place if we all disregarded one another’s feelings. On the flip side, the world would be a much better place if we all gave each other even the bare minimum of common courtesy. You don’t have to be everyone’s favorite person and not everyone you meet will be yours either. That’s okay. You don’t need to constantly go out of your way to do good deeds for people; all you have to do is not go out of your way to be mean to them. Simply keep in mind that what goes around comes around and try to live a positive life. You never know when your actions or lack thereof might hurt someone.