The Challenge

April 26, 2012
By Clay MOffatt BRONZE, Downers Grove, Illinois
Clay MOffatt BRONZE, Downers Grove, Illinois
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

The golden rule. It’s that familiar ethical code that guides us to treat others as we would wish to be treated. How often do we stop and think about that ultimate moral doctrine before we act?

Our own moral code develops from many sources. It’s something that starts with our upbringing; it can’t be denied that who we become starts with how we’re raised. Knowing that, our childhood must focus more on how we treat others. I believe that people should act in a way that corresponds to how they wish to be treated, and, as such, be able to trust those around them. Take Simba from The Lion King for example. The film made him seem too trusting of Scar which led to the demise of Mufasa, sending the message that trust can lead to bad results. I say that they have it backwards; we should instill a sense of moral duty into us instead of a fear of trust.

I take pride in saying that my parents have raised my older sister and me to the best of their ability, positively influencing our habits, academic ability and morals. They taught us to respect other people and to never take advantage of others. While I’m glad to say that I drew the long straw when it comes to parents, I’m not trying to argue that children’s behavior is solely influenced by them. Nonetheless it must be recognized that they play one of the largest roles. Their influence cannot be understated; we both consciously and subconsciously model our actions after our parents.

Another strong influence in our lives is our friends. Over the past few years I’ve been exposed to many more people than the average teenager may meet due to my family’s tendency to move often. There was a point where I gravitated towards people who were outgoing and exotic, who lived for the moment solely to have a good time. Unfortunately, people of that breed often go to great lengths to satisfy their need for excitement and put themselves in situations where their morals are compromised. There came a time when I realized that I didn’t like the direction my social life was headed and I changed course to be with those who were kinder and more compassionate towards others, people who still enjoy life in but a less destructive way. The shift has been eye-opening to me, how while there are genuinely careless people out there, there are also thoughtful people who legitimately consider how others wish to be treated. These people, my family and friends, have shown me that living by the golden rule isn’t impossible, we just have to try.

The world is based on a system of trust. We trust that the airplane pilot knows how to safely take off and land, much in the same way we trust the doctor to sterilize and disinfect the instruments he uses each time we visit. We depend on others in everyday life; we have to trust that they are morally driven to do the right thing. For example, that trusted doctor could have decided to not wash his hands before surgery, similar to how it was the pilot’s moral obligation not to consume alcohol before the flight. Without trust in someone’s moral values, we lose the ability to connect with that person because we lose faith in them. That’s why I firmly believe in acting with a moral code consistent with the golden rule.

To put others before ourselves is a daunting task, but I challenge everyone reading this to recall a time you’ve been hurt, physically or emotionally. I challenge us to remember these times when we’re about to throw punches at someone, or call them a name or bring pain to their lives. Whatever justification you think you may have isn’t worth bringing pain to others, because when it comes down to it, we know we wouldn’t want the same to happen to us.

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