You know the saying, “do unto others as you would like them to do to you!” Harmless and a great motto to live by, right? In fact, it must be called “The Golden Rule” for a reason!!
But what if I told you that it can be harmful too? That it could cause greater misunderstanding and division in your relationships? Would you keep doing unto others as you would want them to do to you? You might. But let me give you another perspective. Can you guess what it is?
The Platinum Rule.
Yes, it’s a thing. (truth be told, I was describing this concept to a friend and colleague and she told me it had this name!!)
The Platinum Rule is “Do unto others as they would have you do unto them”.
In most cases, the Golden Rule is a great way to start a friendship / relationship / association with someone, but the Platinum Rule might help you keep that relationship growing forward in a healthier way.
The Golden Rule allows us to feel better about ourselves while the Platinum Rule helps us make a difference in someone else’s life. I believe it shows them we “see” them, we “hear” them, and we prove to be more genuine in our efforts of coming alongside them (aka. being an ally with them as they face their storm).
Are you someone who wants to be more inclusive and do better when it comes to living in community? Then I would implore you to consider implementing the Platinum Rule.
How will it help you? It will help you grow in understanding cultures other than your own, empathy and becoming an effective ally. It will also help you live into your desire to love your neighbour.
Culture is such a broad term isn’t it? I love it because it is something we all have in common, even though they are lived out differently. I believe, culture is something that unites as strong as it divides. It is the water we are swimming in, metaphorically speaking that is. It is like we are all swimming in the same water as different fish. How is that even possible? Aren’t there differences between saltwater fish and the fish that live in what we in the Midwest call unsalted lakes?
Yes, there are. Maybe that’s where the metaphor ends because it is different with humans!!
Humans, we are from a variety of countries, narratives, experiences, and people groups and yet we come together in one country. For me, it is here in the USA, where I currently reside with my family.
As a third culture adult, I married into a culture opposite and extremely different to my birth and to my upbringing, racially and culturally. We have three biological sons who couldn’t be more different from each other and yet they were raised in the same family “blended” culture of Dutch and East Indian. We did teach them to “do unto others as they would want others to do to them” …but with a twist!!
When it came to the original meaning of that statement, we taught our kids to respect, be kind, friendly, supportive, and empathetic because we wanted them to learn the golden rule. But sadly, what I have learned culturally, as a foreigner in this country, is that when someone “does to others as they would want done to them”, it causes misunderstanding and forces the “different” person to either assimilate or continue to feel disconnected as though they don’t fit or belong. Are you still with me?
The “different” person might possibly assimilate to the point of losing site of who they were created to be. How do I know? That was me several years ago. What did I do about it? I spoke up. Was I heard? No. I understand that culture change takes time, but how will we ever make an impact on a systemic level if we don’t know how to or aren’t willing to make the changes in our daily relationships?
As my husband and I learned (and sometimes fought) through our cultural differences, we began teaching our children various aspects of those differences so they would be equipped well. We had conversations with friends and countless couples we mentored, sharing our understandings with them so they too would be better equipped to handle the challenges they faced. We saw it as a way of passing the baton of “understanding culture” so that relationships grew in unity and didn’t foster division. Some were eager to listen and implement, while others listened and made excuses and pushed back. Who knows, maybe it was a cultural thing…??? (pun intended)
We didn’t let that stop us. We kept learning and sharing.
Are you ready to move up from golden to platinum?
Here are FOUR simple steps that will help you understand more and grow unity rather than foster division in your relationships.
Step #1: Keep learning.
What is in your culture that is not allowing you to achieve unity in your relationship?
What is in their culture that might be impacting how they receive your message?
Step #2: Take a step back and put grace in the space.
What do you need to learn about where they are “coming from”? (Not necessarily ethnically, but their perspective or position on the subject)
Could they be facing some challenges in their story right now?
Step #3: Be teachable.
What common ground do we have in cultures? (could be family/ethnicity/employment, etc., cultures)
Ask yourself if you get defensive when the words “race or culture” come into a conversation. Do you react or respond?
Step #4: Look for what unites you.
You might be from different races and the same culture, or the same race and different cultures, or same race and same culture, different races and different cultures, BUT there is always something within those cultural lanes that will help you discover what unifies you. Trust me, living multi-culturally my whole life has taught me that!!
(For more on that, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will share how our resources will equip you better in your journey)
I used to get very upset when friends / family didn’t “see” me for me and then I learned that they were “doing unto others” and couldn’t see anything wrong with it (and in some cases ignorant of cultural differences) . Their intention was “doing unto others” while my reception of that was lack of understanding and being forced to assimilate. Don’t get me wrong, I was very grateful for their efforts but those efforts didn’t always match their words and beliefs and I didn’t feel heard.
As I implemented those four lessons, I experienced a deeper peace in myself, a readiness to forgive and be gracious and a technique that propelled me forward in my own story and strengthened me for this arduous road of “being different”.
So, the next time you want to just live into the Golden Rule instead of genuinely coming alongside someone different than yourself, ask yourself if what you are doing is promoting inclusion or exclusion. It might look like inclusion on the outside but on the inside that person might be feeling excluded…all over again!! Change it up, embrace the Platinum Rule and ask what might be most useful to them.
Just like culture, any “rule” has the potential to unite as strong as it divides too.
I look forward to hearing from you. Here’s to Growing Forward Together!!