The Golden Rule may not have aged well

If we follow the Golden Rule as stated, we assume that everyone wants to be treated like us, but different cultures have different standards.

There are many things in our society that were once important parts of our culture and society, but have not aged particularly well.

If you’ve watched past Disney movies on the Disney+ streaming site, you’ll see warnings for things like smoking, racial stereotyping, and mistreatment of people and culture in movies like Lady and the Tramp, Peter Pan and Fancy.

I was in the car with my daughter listening to a 90s radio station and the song Bills, bills, bills by Destiny’s Child started playing. The lyrics of the chorus are:

Can you pay my bills?

Can you pay my phone bills?

Do you pay my auto bills?

If you did, maybe we could relax

I don’t think you do

So you and me are over.

As the song was playing, I looked at my daughter and said, “This song hasn’t aged well.”

If you’re not familiar, the band’s lead singer was Beyoncé, one of the most independent, strong and powerful women on the pop culture scene. Today she wouldn’t sing that she needs a man to pay for her.

These examples are little timestamps of where we were as a society at the time (not everyone, but generally, as a collective).

As you read this, you too may be thinking of examples of things that haven’t aged well.

I taught a course on multicultural management and communication this semester at Royal Roads University.

My students came from 13 different countries. We worked together to learn how different people and cultures communicate and how individuals can develop their cultural intelligence to be respectful, understanding and clear when communicating with people different from themselves.

That’s when I started thinking about the golden rule that most, if not all of us, were raised to follow.

“Do to others what you would like them to do to you” is what I was taught. There are other ways to express it, such as “Treat others as you would like to be treated”. Both work.

If we follow the golden rule as stated, we assume that everyone wants to be treated like us.

But different cultures have different cultural norms. Here in Canada, someone may want to be complimented on an outfit or a hairstyle, whereas in Germany, complimenting someone’s appearance is not a common practice and could be seen as odd.

Some people might like to have public recognition for an accomplishment – it would make them feel valued – but someone from a culture rooted in humility would see it as a negative thing, because it’s rude to appear better than others. in your group.

Cultures, races and religions aside, we are all individuals with our own personalities, comfort levels and preferences.

I thought of the term Platinum Rule, then googled it to see if it already existed, and it does. Dr. Tony Alessandra wrote a book of the same title. Alessandra’s rule reads, “Treat others the way they want to be treated.”

I would like to suggest a slight modification to this platinum rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, in a way they will appreciate.” (Please forgive my adaptation of the Bible version – if you have any suggestions, let me know.)

The Golden Rule message is to be kind and show what it means to you. I see this upgrade as being nice and demonstrating what “nice” means to the other person. It’s an art, not a science.

If that sounds a little daunting or complicated, stick to the original golden rule – there’s a reason it’s been around for so long.

It’s also okay to watch old Disney movies or listen to hit music from decades past. We can use the experiences of revisiting those moments in time both for nostalgia and to see how we have grown as people and as a society.

Maybe 30 years from now, the things we thought we were doing right now might face the same scrutiny.

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