“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is a biblical concept spoken by Jesus in Luke 6:31 and Matthew 7:12; it is commonly referred to as the “Golden Rule.” Like you, I heard this at a young age. I grew up in a traditional residential neighborhood. Most of the residents worked 9 to 5 while raising children, and our neighbors were nothing of the exception. Everyone personified the community and what it meant to be neighborly, that is, for the exception of Doug. Doug was our neighbor behind our house. He lived by himself and had a reputation for yelling at kids and telling dogs to shut up. When we moved into the neighborhood, I was only a baby, and my father had planted cedar trees, which can grow over fifteen feet, in our backyard for more privacy. Fast forward ten years, now I am ten years old and an avid little league baseball player. Whether it was my destined fate or unexpected human error as a youth, I made the wise choice of hitting baseballs in the direction of Doug’s house. One ended up hitting his siding and landing near his porch. As I attempted to retrieve the ball knowing what could come out, I realized that even if he were to confront me, I would apologize and say I wouldn’t do it again. After all the second-guessing, I had the might to pick up the ball and run back to my backyard. Nearly ten minutes went by and my father unexpectedly called me inside to the house. There,sitting at my kitchen table was a village police officer. I was questioned about intentionally causing property damage to Doug’s home, and it soon became clear to the officer that I had no intent to cause any harm to the old man. As time passed, my father did not interact with Doug, who wisely decided to keep a low profile.
Years later, when I held my high school graduation party in my backyard, I distinctly remember seeing him through the tall trees, sitting on his back porch, watching the party from start to finish. My mother had ordered so much food that party-goers were creating to-go plates. As the sounds of laughter and music died down after about three and a half hours, so did the party, and soon, it became clean up time. The cars that once filled the streets up and down had been left bare for children to play. As I was loading up food into those disposable aluminum foil food trays, I let my emotions consume me acknowledged that I knew what had to be done. I was going to bring Doug a whole tray of food and a large portion of the cake. I walked over to his house and was greeted with a confused, yet passive welcome. I gave him the food, and he was very appreciative. Still confused, he asked me why I went out of my way to do this. I was going to be the bigger person, because father raised me to believe a simple testament. We don’t need to be instructed to love our friends or family, because that comes naturally to us. When it comes to enemies or even our neighbors, however, it is our instinct to hate them. Treat others the way you want to be treated, and soon you’ll realize the enemies who try to consume you will find a way out of your life.