Yet, it seems that many of us forget this very simple concept on a daily basis.
- How would you feel if you were riding the bus and there was an open seat next to you, but person after person took one look and decided to stand up instead of sitting next to you?
- How would you feel if people walking on the sidewalk towards you glanced at your face, got a frightened expression, and crossed to the other side to avoid you?
- How would you feel if your 5 year-old child was crying by the side of the road and person after person just passed her by without stopping to offer help? What if each passerby who refused to stop called the police to report you for negligence instead ?
- How would you feel if you were walking to work and someone who passed you by in a car rolled up their windows and locked their doors in fear of you--even though you'd done nothing threatening at all?
This week I had a lot of conversations with my students. We tried to problem-solve specific situations in school, and we also talked about things that happen in our community. The vast majority of my students this year are young, Black men. They tell me stories that echo things I've heard from my husband for years. Many people in our community do not treat Black men according to the Golden Rule--treat other people the way you would like to be treated.
All of the scenarios I described above are incidents that both my husband and my current students have shared with me recently. After hearing all of their stories, I can't help but wonder what happened to the Golden Rule. Seems to me that such a simple, universal rule could solve a lot of problems.
- What if every teacher treated the students in their classroom as if they were her/his own children?
- What if you treated every person you saw in the grocery store like a member of your own family?
- What if we really looked beyond what's outside (skin color, eye shape, hair type, body size, clothing style) and treated everyone like one of our own?