Your Fellow Man
So, I was talking with a friend today about all kinds of things, one of those great, amicable political discussions that just goes on for hours.
Well, at some point I wanted to describe part of my own personal operating philosophy. After some investigation I have discovered it is a gray and fuzzy rule, but one which I figure others could make their own.
Quite simply, don't screw your fellow man. Don't cheat him, don't steal from him, don't cut him off in traffic, don't curse his name when he cuts you off, don't do things to him which you wouldn't want to happen to you. Why? Because he is you. He is your neighbor, your coworker, your friend or enemy, but in any case, he's just another poor schmuck trying to make a dollar, feed himself, and maybe enjoy a few moments of his existence.
Part of the definition which is fuzzy is- how far does the idea 'your fellow man' extend? Is it everyone you see? Is it just people you know? Or maybe the people they know, too? Just your family, or maybe it's the people you know, everyone they know, and then everyone those people know. You decide that. Certainly, Mother Theresa's would extend to every person. That's not what this rule is about.
None of us are Mother Theresa. That's what this rule IS about. I certainly don't want to dissuade anyone from great, altruistic and noble tasks. Our time and energy in a given day is nickel and dimed out to a great number of mundane and boring things, and what time and energy we have left we like to spend on things we enjoy- and unless you're quite a piece of work, you enjoy your friends. Being decent to people takes effort and concentration. Limiting the scope of your efforts can be a relief, and 'your fellow man', however you define it, is a nice place. Even if you don't change a thing in how you behave, knowing what your task is can set you at ease.
The problem with this idea is that you must also accept hypocrisy. How is that? Well, being a decent human you believe in human rights for all, equality, etc. However, this rule includes the acceptance of the fact that you simply cannot be Mother Theresa and care about every living person on the planet. And you shouldn't have to. This is not an excuse to dehumanize some people, it is a means by which to limit the scope of your efforts in your day.
With a set goal in hand, the mere task of treating [the people you define as your fellow man] well, perhaps if you find yourself wth extra energy, go on ahead and expand that scope until you're the next Gandhi or Mother Theresa.
Yes, people all over the world die of starvation, abuse, etc.
Some of them die right across the street from you. Fix the world around you, and then set off to fix the rest.