You can’t teach calculus to a chimpanzee. So just share your banana. – Jon Racheal
I’ve never quite heard the Golden Rule expressed this way but it does have a certain je ne sais quoi that makes it very memorable. However I think we better exemplify this one:
Whoever has the gold makes the rule. – Johnny Hart
As we go through life we go through stages. In infancy we are grateful for everything given to us. It’s literally the first time we saw colors, tasted food, heard sounds. And by virtue of novelty we are thankful for those things. As we get older though we start to feel like we are owed those experiences and things. And whatever or whomever gets in our way of gets our wrath.
I think the Brothers Grimm told this very well in the story “The Old Man and His Grandson.” The story goes there once was an old man who lived with his son’s family. As he got older, his eyesight got worse and his own hands started to betray him. During dinner, he would spill his food and drop his utensils. This disgusted his son and his son’s wife to the point where they made him eat behind the stove. As the grandfather got worse, he began to spill the food from the bowl. So, he was given less and less food. Eventually, the grandfather dropped his bowl and it broke. The grandfather was given a small pittance of food and ostracized from his family completely. Every night during dinner he would look at the table with tears in his eyes.
One night, the grandson started to pull small pieces of wood together. The old man asked the grandson, “What are you doing?” The grandson replied, “I’m building a trough for father and mother to eat out of when I get big.” This brought the son and his wife to tears and from then on brought the grandfather to the table and never once mentioned if he spilled anything.
As the reader we look at this situation with, justifiable, disgust. How could anyone treat another person like this? It’s barbaric and inhumane. But looking a little closer you can see the son and his wife really had blinders on. They were blinded by their current situation; all they could see was a means to “fix” their lives. Once someone put their actions into the light, they could see the real problem.
Jesus shines the light on our hearts and actions when he said, “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets” (Matthew 7:12). Similar maxims were floating around in during this time among the Greeks and Romans as well as in Jewish writings. The thing Jesus highlighted, however, is that this is the most important thing. Not just a good idea or a wish for all mankind. This is the call to action. It wasn’t just the notion if you are nice to people they will be nice to you. It is a call to “do to others.”
That’s why the first quote rings so true to me. You can be nice to people every day of every year, but it’s not until you share your banana that you will truly understand what God has in store for your life.