Sunday, December 18, 2005

It’s that #^*% Golden Rule, Part II

If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. ~Luke 6:29

I have titled these posts It’s that #^*% Golden Rule because, as I continue to apply the Golden Rule to my life, the cost often seems to exceed what I envision it will be. For example, when Stephanie informed me that Brian was being evicted and begged me to allow her, her child, and Brian to stay at my house for a couple of weeks, I did not foresee that the first night they were in my home that would rob me of all of the money I had in my wallet. So when I discovered their thievery, I felt betrayed. When I then demanded that they leave my home and they passively ignored my ultimatum, I began to feel ensnared in a situation of my own creating: had I not given of myself to them as I have experienced others giving to me, I would not be in this situation.

I blamed myself for the situation, for I created it. I questioned—not for the first time—the wisdom of following the wisdom of the Golden Rule, even though it is universal in its source. Could Jesus have been wrong in saying it? Could the wise rabbis, Hillel and Philo of Alexandra, given bad advice, as well as Confucius, Mohammed, of Plato, Aristotle, Isocrates, and Seneca? The cost of my mitzvah—my good deed—was much greater than I an anticipated. And it was all the fault of that #^*% Golden Rule!

Or, was it? I could have anticipated the result allowing Stephanie and Brian into my home. After all, Stephanie is a convicted felon on parole. Brian had stolen from me—and others—before, to the point that neither Stephanie’s mother nor grandmother now allow him to stay with them. I should have known! I should never have allowed them into my home! I should never have followed the Golden Rule!

In fact, I did anticipate problems. Thus, I established a set of rules and boundaries that I discussed with Stephanie and Brian before I allowed them into my house. One of those was that they were to take or use nothing that belonged to me without my permission. This time, like Charlie Brown allowing Lucy to hold the football for me, I thought all would be OK—and ended up, just like Good ‘Ole Charlie Brown, flat on my back

The reality is, had Stephanie and Brian asked me for money, I would have loaned them what I could afford—I may have even given it to them. But they did not ask; they stole. And I felt betrayed and demanded they leave. And they did not leave and I felt frustrated. And they stole again and I felt enraged and began the process of having them removed from my home.

It was perhaps this final act that wounded me the most. As Michael Collins supposedly said of the British, “I hate them for making hate necessary, and I'll do what I can to end it.” I was offended to the point of aching becuase they had forced me to contact law enforcement to remove them from my house.

Back to the Golden Rule: I have been tempted to never follow it again. That is part of what I dredged up out of my pres-conscious mind during yesterday morning’s contemplation. Of course I have since concluded that I will not do that for I cannot be ethical or a true disciple if I ignore this teaching for whatever reason. And, I remembered one more teaching of Jesus: If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. (Luke 6:29)

To Be Continued


  1. They certainly struck you, didn't they? At least 3 times.

  2. Mike: Yes, they did. That reminds me of a scene from the movie “The Big Fisherman,” I’ll share the story in a future post.