Your mirror is not my eyes

August 20, 2010

I’m sure you all know the old golden rule that most of us were brought up according to: “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” A lot of you probably also know that even if the thought behind the golden rule is good, it is trumped by the platinum rule: “Do unto others according to their druthers.”

I first learned about the platinum rule through “The art of connecting” a couple of years ago, but it is quite self explanatory given that we are all different. Why would I like you to treat me according to your liking? If I’m straight forward and you like to wrap things in several layers of honey, we’re not going to get along that well as long as you insist on following the golden rule. If you like indian food and take me to an indian restaurant on a date, you’re stroking this cat the wrong way (also, I’m married so you shouldn’t be taking me on a date at all).

But it’s hard to follow the platinum rule. First of all, it’s really hard to know what makes another person tick. Second, acting according to someone elses druthers might be going against your own very nature. But if we want to succeed in our communication and living with others we need to realize that we’ll always be judged by the context others put us in, not the one we like to think that we exist in.

I’ve already discussed “The Walking People” by Paula Underwood in a couple of previous posts and I’m sure that I will get back to it again since it’s so full of lessons to be relearned today. The people that we get to follow in this ancient Native American history had a saying that they repeated to themselves every time they where confronted with new people (or animals for that matter): “How might we seem to them?” And they adjusted their approaches according to the answers they came up with. They knew, that if they were to learn something from these meetings, they would have to try to see the world through someone elses eyes.

I suggest that all of us start asking ourselves this question daily in our contacts with others; how might I seem to them? Because all of the people who meet us will put us into the context of their lives, of their history and of their models of the world. All of us have different views on the situations we are confronted with and even though most of us like to think that our view is at least a little bit better than the others’, we will be seen through their eyes and we will be judged according to their models.

Even if we don’t come up with the correct answer immediately, I’m pretty sure that we will be better off having asked this question than if we just assume that everyone else are exactly like us. That kind of thinking is what leads people to think that others act differently out of spite. And that kind of thinking is probably what makes a nation start deporting people who act differently, instead of trying to find a way to coexist.

So, how might I seem to you?

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