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Beyond the Golden Rule

Roger Marolt

Last Sunday I was miserable with yet another cold. It was snowing and my wife and kids were all off with friends, doing their own things. With a nasty cough keeping me up most of the previous night, I was desperate for some rest. I did what I could do to pass the afternoon in peaceful repose. I downed a double dose of Nyquil, flopped onto the couch, and clicked on the golf tournament. A player stood on the edge of the green with his arms crossed over his chest waiting for an official ruling about whether or not he had been standing over his ball illegally. Ahhh, just the sort of background noise I was hoping for. As the announcers argued the finer points of the obscure rule in muted, monotone voices, I began to doze. The television sounds faded in and out:”If he is found in violation … he can’t afford the one stroke penalty … it’s interesting how the rule came about … of course, these rules pale in comparison to the granddaddy of rules …””What the …?” I was suddenly paying attention. “What granddaddy of rules?” I said to myself.”Well, The Golden Rule of course,” the voice from the television said back to me. “You know, ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’ It was the winner in the Rules Olympics way back when.””What?””Sure. That one came away with the gold medal, thus ‘The Golden Rule,’ get it? Yep, it was quite an event. All the greats were there: ‘Don’t Steal,’ ‘Don’t Kill,’ ‘Look Both Ways Before Crossing The Street,’ all of them.””You’re kidding.””Nope. Most of the big ones you can think of were eliminated in the preliminaries. ‘Do unto Others’ pretty much covered them all and headed into the finals. Mmm … what a race that was!” “Come on.””No, really. It was closer then anyone could have imagined.””So, I suppose you’re going to tell me there is a silver rule?””Well, of course there is! Nobody remembers, but it darn near became the rule we all try to live by. It lost by a hair.””I don’t believe this. What, pray tell, is the ‘Silver Rule’?””The Silver Rule is ‘Be Content When You Have Enough.'” “It doesn’t sound that impressive. How did it nearly pull off the upset?””Think about it! The world would be a much better place if we all followed this rule. Right here for example: If we were all contented when enough is enough, this golf course would be the same yellowish green as your yard. A game of golf would be just nine holes. This tournament would have been over Friday and nobody would have wasted an entire weekend playing or watching it.”Hmmm … “”A baseball game would last three innings, basketball season would end in February, and we would be spared the NFL pre-season. Reality TV would be a memory. “Friends” reruns would be out of syndication. There’d be no political ads. Speed bumps would be unnecessary, leather interiors would be a nuisance, and all the hummers would be in barbershop quartets. Nobody would wear Spandex. Neon bike jerseys would be worn only by pros. Speedos would be a thing of the past. Big Macs would be small, Hershey bars would have fewer calories than a batch of fudge, and we wouldn’t sip Diet Cokes out of small barrels. After a run we’d feel refreshed rather than hammered. Nobody would measure a hike. Twenty-four-hour races would include eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. Ski lift tickets would cost eight bucks.”People would work less and love more. We’d have shorter lists and feel satisfied longer. Our waistlines would shrink while our lifelines stretched. We would accumulate more friends and fewer things. We’d put more effort into improving ourselves than our property. “More air would be clean and more land would be dirt. We’d drink out of streams instead of plastic bottles. Big deals would seem smaller and small moments feel bigger. We wouldn’t want what isn’t ours. Leaders could concentrate on leading. Following wouldn’t be bad. There would be no reasons to fight. Children would grow up slower. Wounds would heal faster. We’d lose fears and gain faith. We would never fail.” “That’s very interesting. I see how it could have been a close race. It’s sort of hard to imagine that this rule lost and ended up with the silver medal.””To tell you the truth, it was a victim of itself.””How’s that?””Second place was good enough. It wasn’t worth it to lose sleep, risk an ulcer, or end up with gray hair just to come home with the big prize and all the adulation that goes along with it. Those things take their toll. Have you seen The Golden Rule lately?””Ya, it looks a little beat, doesn’t it?””Yep, I think the pressure has gotten to it; worn it down. It’s not too effective anymore; a victim of its own success. Nobody pays attention to it.””Didn’t Confucius create his own silver rule though: ‘Don’t do unto others as you would have them not do unto you’?””Ya, but that was a big fiasco. It failed the doping test in the qualifier. It turns out that it was just The Golden Rule on the juice. It was kicked out of the competition.””Hmmm. So, I hate to ask, but what rule got the bronze in that contest?””Ah, it was so far back that it almost doesn’t matter.””Come on.””Okay, but you’re not going to like it: ‘Follow all directions when taking this or any other medications.'”Say something nice or don’t say anything at all or, rules are meant to be broken at roger@maroltllp.com


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