1/20/14

Do Unto Others . . .

Do unto Megyn Kelly?
Of all the things I've learned in Jew School (and I've learned a ton and loved every lesson) my favorite is the Hillel's proselyte story. Read the Talmud to get the official version but here is an approximation . . .

A guy challenged a Jewish Scholar to explain the entire Torah to him while he stood on one foot (in other words - hurry up, my balance is not that great). Shammai played it cool and said (paraphrased) "Do unto others as you'd have them do unto you. The rest of the Torah is elaboration."

As great as THAT is - the truth is the basic tenants of Judaism, Christianity and Islam is that same, simple rule (Yes, yes, yes extremists in all three camps screw up that beautifully simple logic every. single. second. of. the. day.)

I fancy myself a "descent" person but I am not in any way perfect and I certainly fall well short of this ideal I would aspire to on a regular basis. Sometimes in more extreme ways than others. The "good" news is that I'm usually aware of myself when I botch life's simplest rule and can correct for it. Sometimes, I miss the mark.

An example . . . I had an awkward interaction with a stranger in a gas station the other day. I recounted the exchange to a person I respect and love and they told me that the whole thing made me look "unkind". Normally immune to criticism (I kid), I had to at least absorb that it is NOT very "unto others" to be unkind to others, right?

I tried to understand this criticism (it was part of a larger conversation so I may have taken this part too much to heart) and clarified that I treat people with the context of a situation and that I try to give people what they want/need from me and what I want/need to give them in return. To elaborate, I give the people that sell the hummus my every penny. I give the woman that takes a blood a firm smack. I give the dude that cut me off in traffic the proverbial bird. I give a stranger in QuikTrip a pat "Have a nice day."

The rebuttal was sort of inspired/inspiring which was that a BETTER way to behave is to be the same person to everyone you interact with. To hold yourself to the same standard, same behavior, same mindset, and same discipline no matter what. Of course this does not imply that if you kiss one person you must kiss allllll the people. It is more about establishing a base of who you are and interacting with people in that context (if I could presume it would mean that I'm the guy who gets things off the high shelf for the short people no matter how well I know them or how I perceive them as a person.)

"A basic level of courtesy and civility." (I think) was how the behavior was summarized.

I barked back "I guess I presumed that was implied."

On that note the Torah's lessons were felt, we each put our second foot down and we went back to talking about Megyn Kelly in a way neither of us would ever want her to talk about us . . . and, yes, the irony was noted.