An issue of harassment was brought before Marlinton Town Council at its July meeting. After hearing about the issue at hand, the complainant asked me to offer a response in the Mayor’s Corner. My response this week expands upon a shorter answer given at the meeting.
When a mayor or resident hears about something negative in our community it should be of concern to everyone within that community. We are living in extraordinary times. Crime, domestic issues, petty theft, homelessness, and all the associated problems attached to substance abuse continue to grow. But the problem of people treating people rude-ly, being disrespectful and being unkind, because of differences in opinions, is something we could conquer tomorrow, if we tried.
What can we do to make a difference?
The real beauty of living in these United States of America has been the Freedom of CHOICE. One can hope that another’s choices remain within a certain boundary of beliefs, but regardless, the freedom to believe “what we believe” is at the heart of a Free society. Those beliefs cover a wide variety. These various beliefs give opportunity for disagreement. Despite differences, Americans have long believed in the motto, United we Stand. This motto did not come about by accident.
America and our communities are in trouble because our motto has been forgotten. Profound as it is, we have managed to stand by that motto, because of “standards.” One such standard, (that has similar references in more than one faith), is The Golden Rule. The Golden Rule is best interpreted as saying: “Treat others the way you would want to be treated.” Read Matthew 7:12 and Luke 6:13.
I remember an instance at a local dollar store that will remain nameless, by a certain clerk who will also remain nameless. After observ- ing an exchange between the clerk and another customer in front of us in the checkout line, I suggested remembering the Golden Rule to the clerk. Her expression said, what is that? This is a huge part of the problem expressed at the Marlinton Town Council meeting. This is the problem dividing our nation today. Too many among us do not know, or care to exercise the Golden Rule. Because it is a two-way street. Doing unto others – as we would have them do unto us.
There is another part to this that summarizes: Be not deceived, God is not mocked “whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” In other words, if you sow rude behavior, expect rude behavior. If you are disrespectful to others, expect others to be disrespectful to you. Being unkind will bring unkind behavior in return. Some call it Karma.
The Golden Rule is best seen as a consistency principle. It does not give all the answers, but it does prescribe consistency. Our actions (toward another) should be in harmony with our desire to treat others in a manner consistent with how we would want to be treated. If we violate the Golden Rule, then we are violating the spirit of fairness and concern that lie at the heart of morality.
My promised response is in keeping with the same spirit of fairness and concern.
A last word: There used to be a hardware store in Belington by the name of The Golden Rule Store. Every time my grandmother was in a vehicle that passed by that business she would say, “What a wonderful name for a store!”
Until next time…