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The Commons: Receiving the Wisdom of the Golden Rule

A meditation on creating a civil society

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Thinkstock/SSalamony

Nine years ago, as part of a small entourage driving across the frozen tundra of Mongolia, I witnessed time and again how understanding the need to look out for one another in the subzero temperatures superseded any differences of language, age, or cultural background. I was the only foreigner and yet my hosts made me feel like an adopted sister. They treated me kindly, as one of them. When my Western, waterproof, minus-50-degree boots failed to keep my feet warm, they lent me a pair of local wool felt boots that succeeded. They laughed easily at my different perceptions, and the good-hearted treatment went both ways. Looking back, I see that this is what it’s like to be on the receiving end of the Golden Rule. It felt caring and gracious. It inspired gratitude. I also think it is a lot easier to perceive such behavior when you’re far from home and it’s abundantly clear that you are the “other.” I also reflect much further back on how one of my close friends once handled a dicey situation. From where I stood, it sure looked like my friend was getting the raw end of the deal, a point I raised repeatedl …

As Deputy COO of Spirituality & Health Media, Meggen Watt Petersen contributes her expertise across the board, including to the editorial team. She has written on matters of interfaith or international relations throughout her career.


This entry is tagged with:
Personal EssayTravelKindnessMeditation Practices

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