Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Fourteen Carat Adages

The problem with being jaded, cynical, pessimistic, and skeptical of pretty much everything thats got its back turned to you, is that sometimes, you are just dead wrong.  Or confused.  Or ignorant.  Or just in as much need for sweetness, optimism, and a role as a true believer as the next guy.  Some people have claimed that this formulation of mine is too fancy by half.  How is it they report that to me?  "Actually Andy, the question is, 'Do you wanna be a jerk, or not?'"  

Gosh.  Had no idea it was so simple.

My life is probably as much fun for me as it is due to the fact that I always am thinking about things that were long ago settled as forgettable in the normal persons life, and I'm spinning them in my head, curious as all get out, but probably floating a little further from the "pack" then strictly necessary.  One time I was at my Aunt and Uncle's (same ones I mentioned a few entries back), and at the dinner table, a place where most any subject is welcome, I decided to mention my thoughts about the Golden Rule.

"You know, " I said, "the Golden Rule isn't so simple as it's frequently painted by people."  My surrogate family unit, stopped chewing and looked at me in a manner that might be described as wearily.  "Yeah," I said, warming to the subject despite the subtle drop in the rooms temperature, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  It's simply different than what you frequently might think.  'As you would have...' indicates a burden..."   "Give me a break," said my cousin Heather.  "That's not true at all," my Uncle let me know.  "It's so simple.. jeez," said my cousin Timmy, the look on his face clearly somewhat different then admiring.  My Aunt just recited the Rule.  Shook her head like it couldn't be simpler.

I must admit, I was at a loss as to how subtleties of the Golden Rule might somehow be helpful.  I think I was under the impression that many people I knew seemed to regard the Golden Rule as a sort of relative of Hittite Law (eye for an eye...)  To me, the Golden Rule, somewhat like the bizarre riddles that Jesus wove, to what must of been the mass confusion of a tribal culture, asks a person to abstract their relationships, remove their actual experiences with people, from their valuation of the same.  To behave toward others as if those people are you.  For real.  Not kinda.  And certainly having nothing to do whatsoever with how they treat you, good or bad.  

Obviously such a posture in the modern world is fairly insane.  I doubt it was embraced with a great deal of affection in the ancient world.  Maybe this Rule, which we hear our entire lives, does live profoundly within us.  Maybe its simply a matter of us sometimes employing it, when we can get around to it, or have the energy.  Maybe there is no confusion, and basically everyone regards The Rule, in its proper aspect.  It is after all one of the great universal wisdoms, common to all theology.  

Obviously it is old hat, and I am a bit naive.


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