Friday, November 22, 2019

Better living through the rules of children

If you venture onto social media or turn on the news, you’d be hard pressed to believe that we are in the holiday season. Turmoil and hate are everywhere: The impeachment hearings have magnified the party-driven divide in our country; generations are fighting with one another as made evident by the “OK Boomer” trend and that which beget it; Syracuse University has been bombarded by hateful messages reflecting incidents elsewhere; and so much more.

The love and eternal hope that should dominate Thanksgiving and Christmas – and every day outside of this next month, for that matter – just isn’t there. People are choosing instead to take darker paths. All of these actions, and so much more, are all quite disconcerting for this is not behavior you would expect out of grown adults.

And maybe that’s the problem. Maybe the supposed maturity of adulthood isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.

I've often found that the simple rules that we suggest to, even demand of, children to govern their lives and their behaviors are timeless and ageless expectations that should be applied to adults, too. Our companies, families, communities and world would be better off were we to govern and lead all of them with the pure innocence and unconditional love that children have in their worldview.

For instance, take the succinct Scout Oath: “On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; To help other people at all times; To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.”

The Scout Law that accompanies it is: “A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.”

Those rules, which millions of boys have memorized and are charged to live by, are pretty impressive standards. Their call for moral clarity knows no boundaries – not for nations, race, creeds nor social standings.

They are rules that I strive to live by and rules that I often tell business and community leaders that they should follow. It’s good to have some sort of moral compass in what one does personally and professionally. Even a Godless society can be a good one if people learn to carry themselves accordingly -- if someone doesn’t believe in a god, expectations of pristine behavior can be had, whether they occur organically or are learned.

Not surprisingly, more often than not that good behavior yields good results for good people. Those who approach their lives – and the lives of others -- with dignity, class, etiquette, and love seem to succeed in life and work. Some say that’s the way the fates, the gods, the very nature of the universe seem to work. More truthfully, if you treat others well they will do the same to you.

That speaks to the stark power of the Golden Rule, something so useful, so important, so potent that in some way, shape or form it can found in every religion on Earth: “Do unto others as you as you would have them do unto you”. That is the underlying tenet, the foundation, in the life lessons that we as adults try so often to instill in kids – be it through parental guidance, the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts, our churches or our schools.

But, it’s damaging  -- and damning – to our world that those same adults do not practice what they preach. If the rules of children are known to count for something, then why do we abandon the simplicity of childhood upon becoming of legal age? Why do we say one thing to the young and do something entirely different?

If those rules are good enough for our kids, then they are certainly good enough for us.

And, in today’s world, it seems we need them more than ever. Life is too short to live miserably and with disregard to those going through it with you. We’re all in this together.

From the 25 November 2019 Greater Niagara Newspapers and Batavia Daily News

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