You can develop a “Midas touch” with people by taking your focus off of yourself and what you can gain, and instead focusing on adding value to others. It’s easy to love people who love you. And showing kindness to people who treat you well is little more than common courtesy. But how do you respond to poor treatment from others? Do you return disrespect with disrespect? Do you meet aggression with aggression? It doesn’t take much for unkindness to escalate into greater conflict. Take a look at some of these seemingly petty disagreements that grew into full-blown war:
• A dispute between the cities of Modena and Bologna over a well bucket about 900 years ago began a war that devastated Europe.
• A Chinese emperor once went to war over the breaking of a teapot.
• Sweden and Poland flew at each other’s throats in 1654 because the king of Sweden discovered that his name in an official dispatch was followed by only two et ceteras, while the king of Poland had three.
• The spilling of a glass of water on the Marquis de Torey led to war between France and England.
• By throwing a pebble at the Duc de Guise, a small boy caused the massacre of Vassy and the Thirty Years’ War.2
It takes a person of strong character to treat others better than they treat you. As civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a permanent attitude.” If everyone practiced the Golden Rule, the world would be a better place. But think about what kind of world it would be if everyone strove to treat others better than they are treated. I call that living by the Platinum Rule.
I believe there is a wealth greater than money, and it comes from how you interact with others. It takes a person of strong character to treat others better than they treat you! If there ever is a time that the Golden Ruler is needed it is when you need to return a better action than you were given. This can be done by refocusing on:
What is Good?
What is Right?
What is True?
How do you react when someone mistreats you? Whether it is a big offense or a small matter of contention, we all must deal with the malice others show toward us. Which of the following is your natural mode of operation?
● The Avenger This hero of revenge lives by the “eye for an eye” principle. Think of Sir William Wallace routing the English in honor of his dear Scotland. This person returns a verbal jab for a verbal jab. When he is pushed he pushes back. He keeps a record of rights and wrongs and makes sure everyone is even.
● The Avoider This mode of operation is a little more subtle. There is no outward sign of revenge, but internally this person cuts the offending party off. Bitterness develops inside their heart. It is an internal termination. “If you mistreat me, then I’ll just cut you out of my routine. You will receive a smile, but in my heart you are long gone.” The avoidance is an attempt to avert further mistreatment. The avoidance is also an attempt to prevent having to ever help the mistreated.
● The Taker This person does nothing. They view mistreatment as the way it is. Imagine a punching bag. The role of the bag is to receive abuse and never do anything about it.
● The Blesser This way of reacting to mistreatment is rare. This person actually returns kindness for mistreatment. The goal is to treat others well no matter how they treat you. Think of Jesus, who was nailed to a cross, all the while praying for the forgiveness of his murderers.
1. Which of the above best describes your normal mode of operation when someone mistreats you?
The Avenger The Avoider The Taker The Blesser
2. Which one displays the most strength? Why?
3. Which one displays the Golden Touch?
4. Why is the concept of being “The Blesser” or treating others better than they treat you so strange?
5. How can being “The Blesser” benefit the situation?
“Sometimes we find it hard to forgive. We forget that forgiveness is a s much for us as for the other person. If you can’t forgive it’s like holding a hot coal in your hand- you’re the one getting burned.” Jennifer James (Hendricks 96)