Conflicts account for a great part of the stress manifested in our society today. Conflict is the natural result of differences in viewpoints. I’ve learned that the best way to reduce the stress that results from conflicts is to follow the Golden Rule. The Golden Rule simply stated is to “Treat others the way that you would like to be treated”.
A Wikipedia definition of The Golden Rule concept “describes a ‘reciprocal’, or ‘two-way, relationship between one's self and others that involves both sides equally, and in a mutual fashion.” The critical elements of this definition are the words “equally” and “mutual”. Relationships based upon equality and mutual interests are often difficult to establish and maintain in today’s self-centered, egoistic culture. It is easier to blame others for disagreements rather than looking inside ourselves to see how we might be contributing to the conflict.
Living by The Golden Rule means putting ourselves into someone else’s shoes so that we can understand their perspective. However, it is useless to be in someone else’s shoes unless we can also experience empathy for what the other person is feeling. If we truly understand how someone else feels, we are in a much better position to treat them as an equal and mutual partner in solving our problems. If we lack empathy and treat others in ways that violate The Golden Rule we run the risk of violating the spirit of fairness and concern that lie at the heart of morality. It is clearly to everyone’s advantage to treat each other with dignity, respect, and empathy.
The importance of The Golden Rule principle is illustrated by the "Declaration Toward a Global Ethic" from the Parliament of the World’s Religions in 1993 which proclaimed The Golden Rule ("We must treat others as we wish others to treat us") as the common principle for many religions. The Initial Declaration was signed by 143 respected leaders from all of the world's major faiths, including Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and others.
Those familiar with the Christian religions might view the Golden Rule as an application of Leviticus 19:18 : "You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against your kinsfolk. Love your neighbor as yourself: I am the lord."
Religious affiliation, however is not required to practice the Golden Rule. The fundamental principle of mutual respect and treatment are essential elements of human cooperation and interaction. Following the Golden Rule enables one to take the high road no matter whether or not others are doing the same. If you would like to reduce the stresses that result from strained relationships try living by the Golden Rule. The Golden Rule still works. It’s not broken.