Sunday, January 15, 2017
What If Doing Unto Others Actually Practicing Narcissism?
Do unto others...Luke records Jesus' words from the Sermon On The Mount a bit differently than Matthew. Luke provides the phraseology we so often use to advise our children - as I was advised by MY parents; "And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise." (Luke 6:31) Recently, I've been thinking on this edict and I have to say that, today, this admonition doesn't stand like it did decades ago when my grandparents - and even parents - used it.
Not long ago, I had a disagreement with a friend. In the course of the discussion to clear the air, I realized they were not approaching the issue at all in a similar way as I. They had a specific outcome in their head and were simply unable to understand my feelings on the matter at all. What I was saying didn't make sense in their predetermined way of thinking, and as such, we were never going to be able to reach a consensus that satisfied us both.
In the course of the discussion, while I treated my friend in the way I would have wanted to be treated (I hope!), I'm fairly certain I was spoken to in a way that would not have been acceptable had the tables been reversed.
I believe we humans today suffer an amazing lack of humility - social media posts containing endless 'selfies'; stories of college campuses full of students in complete break down mode because someone dared disagree with them - should speak to the truth of that statement. This lack of humility translates to a lack of understanding the ways in which we are not 'doing unto others' even though we might believe we are.
When our perspective is informed solely by our feelings and thoughts, or our station in work or life (I'm the owner/supervisor/mother), we can't possibly treat people in a way other than that which we want to be treated because it's all about us, yet that is not what Jesus meant when He adjured us to follow it.
Inner reflection and examination are hard pills to swallow for anyone, but I think for Christians most of all. We all desire to be good people, so what happens when we're not? Are we willing to examine our consciences? Are we willing to see that black spot on our facade in the mirror? If not, we can't even begin to deal with getting rid of it because we have to tackle what put it there in the first place and that might hurt our feelings or our consciences and who wants to be saddled with that burden? Who wants to feel that, as a Christian, we might not have been very Christ like?
We Christians must now do some soul searching about this often used phrase. Instead of merely paying it lip service, next time we are confronted with a situation in which we have to deal one on one with another, lets REALLY think on our words and actions and examine them to see if we're following the phrase the way JESUS meant it, or the way WE feel about ourselves.
Maybe, instead of a literal Biblical translation in this instance, we should think of the phrase like this, "Do unto others as Jesus would have done unto them" - or - "Do unto others in the kindest possible way, listening carefully to their concerns, taking into account their possible perceptions and biases rather than seeing the situation through only your eyes." Amen?