The Platinum Rule

We’ve all heard the Golden Rule: “Treat others the way you want to be treated.” While that rule is a good start, I’ve always been a bigger fan of the Platinum Rule: “Treat others the way they want to be treated.”

heart-1567215_960_720Living life by the Platinum Rule means setting aside my own preconceived ideas for what others need and want. It forces me to stop and listen, to put aside my own life experience and allow others to fully live out their own life experience.

When I treat others the way they want to be treated, I put aside my notions of historical significance to manmade objects and listen to how people feel when they see oppression objectified.

When I treat others the way they want to be treated, I put aside my own reality of comfort and safety and listen to how people feel unsafe walking in their neighborhoods, driving on the other side of town, living their daily lives.

When I treat others the way they want to be treated, I put aside an ideal that learning a new language is an easy thing and I listen to stories of learning three or four other languages before tackling English.

When I treat others the way they want to be treated, I recognize that my marriage and family fit into societal norms and I listen to the heartbreak of families not recognized by their churches and faith communities.

There’s been a lot in the news the past couple days about how we want others to live their lives – from the distribution of resources in a crises to the way we choose to interpret the Bible that cuts out whole sections of the population, we are living the way we want to be treated. My rights are so rarely infringed upon that I can easily treat others how I want to be treated because society treats me pretty well.

But when I treat others how they want to be treated, that can make me uncomfortable. It can force me to recognize that my neighbors want to be treated with dignity because their rights are often diminished. It forces me to recognize that my LGBTQ friends want to worship without condemnation because they are so often shut out of the community of God. It forces me to recognize that our system is built on a history of racism and oppression and that I have both directly and indirectly benefited from this.

Treating others the way they want to be treated doesn’t make me less than. Building others up and honoring their experiences doesn’t diminish my own or rewrite history. I think about the way Jesus lead by example, how time and again he treated the “other” with dignity and respect. He didn’t treat them the way society demanded but with grace and love. How can I do any less?

How do you honor those whose experiences are different from your own? What are some ways you’ve learned to listen to the experiences of others?

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6 thoughts on “The Platinum Rule

  1. The first thing that came to mind is colored by Hurrican Harvey. No matter how much organizations plead for people to make monetary donations, people (and local news stations) continue to organize donation drives for material things. But, your point is well taken as you go on to say treating others as they want to be treated can make us feel uncomfortable. Dignity and respect are the values we want to honor. Excellent words today, Annie. Thank you.

    1. Yes – love your perspective, especially, Debby. Isn’t it funny that we think we know what’s best? I read a good quote about not overanalyzing the BEST place to donate and then never actually donating….

  2. Great post, Annie!

    I find that I’ve been able to see life from both sides; before I had to stop working, medical care was available…and now with me out of the workforce our income falls into that gap where insurance under the ‘Affordable’ Care Act is almost unaffordable, and in any event, with huge deductibles, unusable.

    If I tended toward bitterness I don’t know what life would be life; unpleasant to be sure. But this is how most of the world lives, with anything more than basic doctoring (much of which I can do myself, including running a homemade IV to replace fluids) an unrealizable dream. As it is, when I see TV commercials for insurance-supported Viagra and Cialis, I can only shake my head in bemusement. I suppose that for some, erectile dysfunction really IS a fate worse than death.

    Society doesn’t care about me; that much I know. I would qualify for assisted suicide benefits, which really underscores the point.

    I am, therefore, down to the irreducible; to survive I have to do it myself, and the most powerful weapons I have are faith and will. Not the faith that pleads for a healing miracle, but that which accepts the situation with the knowledge that the strength to prevail for the hour ahead will be given me.

    It’s made me more compassionate toward those in real trouble; the refugee and the victims of real-world violence. But there’s another side, and I am far less tolerant of those who would hold offense and grievance to their hearts in the hope of a moral or monetary payoff, and those who would claim special pleading based on race, sexual orientation, or any one of a number of dividing factors.

    To the latter groups I’d say this: to society, my life is LITERALLY valueless, and I can cope with it, and find a reason both to live, and to live with joy. Your issues are real, but they are not life and death, no matter how you feel about them.

    You can only meet the world on its own terms, and the only character measured in that meeting is your own.

    Sorry for the long-winded comment!

    #1 at FMF this week.

    https://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com/2017/08/your-dying-spouse-357-fine-sense-of.html

    1. Andrew, isn’t perspective so incredible? Your sentence about being compassionate toward those in “real” trouble floored me. Such a reminder that there’s someone always with a greater need – not to negate our own struggles or to be overwhelmed into inaction but to place ourselves in a greater picture.

  3. Very good! You have brought to mind many conversations I have had with folks who have been told by there church that they will not baptize their child because they are in a same sex marriage. The person acknowledged she knows she is sinning, but cannot believe that her son is being punished, her words, for her sins. It saddens me. It saddens her, and her mother. I know it is a difficult question, but it seems the child should be loved. My friends own words, “I know I am living in sin and I have to have difficult conversations with my son, but where is he going to get the information he needs without being able to be washed by the water.” she says she loves God, loves her son, her wife, but is frustrated by the church. I try to see her point of view. I have told her that there are churches that would baptize him, but she is Catholic and it is very important that he be baptized in the Catholic Church. I wonder as you ask, what Jesus would say about this. I believe firmly, he would baptize that child. I, myself, try my hardest not to judge others, be accepting and love them the best I can. Hopefully they will see my actions as living
    the Platinum Rule.

    1. Whew, how hard for this family!! I choose to believe that Jesus called us to LOVE, above all else. It is so easy to judge and withhold but so radical to put aside our own morals and simply, truly Love. I’m so glad this family knows that love through you!

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