Do you find that your life is sometimes like a long chain of decision points that tend to suffocate your happiness? Have you ever wondered about how you lean in that direction? Would you like to change the reflection in the mirror?
I speak often about the sequence of the phrasing of the Golden Rule. The Rule is simple: Love thy neighbor as thyself. But it often tricks us up and then we begin to suffocate. We must love ourselves before we can love others. Do you recognize the phrasing. The level of our love for others is directly dependent on our love of self. This is a powerful concept. We practice it constantly. It is very intuitive.
Have you been on a plane lately? Do you recall the safety briefing? What do the flight attendants tell us about the oxygen mask:
Oxygen and the air pressure are always being monitored. In the event of a decompression, an oxygen mask will automatically appear in front of you. To start the flow of oxygen, pull the mask towards you. Place it firmly over your nose and mouth, secure the elastic band behind your head, and breathe normally. Although the bag does not inflate, oxygen is flowing to the mask. If you are traveling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your mask on first, and then assist the other person. Keep your mask on until a uniformed crew member advises you to remove it.
Place your oxygen mask on yourself first, don’t suffocate — and then help others! This is the most obvious example, but there are many others. Take care of yourself first. This brings us right back to our “two part harmony” in my last blog posting. The Golden Rule comes in two parts; love self and love neighbor.
Loving self means that I respect myself, that I honor myself, that I trust myself and the many other virtues that we often expect from others. I should have the wisdom to understand what this means and then the courage to follow through. These virtues must exist in self first before we expect to see them in our neighbors! Jesus told us to remove the log from our own eye first, before attempting to remove the chip from someone else’s eye!
This seems to be the paradox of our existence, doesn’t it? I am referencing back to that two-part harmony again. So often we tend to look outward ignoring the reflection. For everything we do there is a reflection! And quite often that reflection is very ugly!
Let’s say I am a baker: Baking cakes is my business. Therefore, my greatest purpose should be to bake the finest cakes in the land for that next customer who walks through my bakery shop door. Generally, I should service everyone who enters my business because I respect them, as I respect myself. I have certain standards however: I do not bake wedding cakes. I don’t believe in the institution of marriage, it’s a total sham in my opinion. What a joke…
You and your beloved would like to get married. It seems like the best announcement of your partnership. Tradition calls for a sharing of a beautiful wedding cake as part of the celebration. There are dozens of bakeries who’d love to create that beautiful piece of art to help you celebrate your special day. You would be in your right mind if you took your ideas about how that cake should look to three or more bakers to get an idea of scale and cost. You should get recommendations and check on them to ensure that you are getting what expect. By focusing on your personal needs (style, cost, scheduling) you have automatically eliminated my shop without incident! No reflection on me and my standards, or you and yours. We have met our ultimate goal, each respects personal needs (first) and then the other’s next.
The minute that either of us attempt to force our belief system on the other, we have failed the Golden Rule—Law of Reciprocity principle and begin to suffocate. We have jointly reduced harmony, as well as increased strife and discord. We should respectand honor one another’s ideals without it becoming a source of division, disharmony and hatred.