Unto Others

   There hangs above my desk a new framed print I received as a gift. It is a Norman Rockwell print entitled “The Golden Rule.” It depicts persons of many faith traditions, nationalities, and races. Among them are the elderly, the middle aged, and children, some of them hungry, some of them praying, and they all seem to be looking the same direction, eyes lowered in a rather reverent, humble sort of way.
Across the lower center of the print are the simple familiar words, “Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You.”
   They all seem to be looking the same direction, that is, save two. At the rear of the group there are two persons one a man and the other a woman. The man appears to be looking right at me, it does not seem to matter where I stand, he is looking at me. The woman seems to be looking beyond me, it does not seem to matter where I stand, she is looking past me. As I ponder this print I wonder what the intent of the artist was, is there meaning behind the two person’s depictions, or is it just how he painted them?
   So, without Mr. Rockwell available in my office for comment, I am pondering the meaning myself. Perhaps the majority of the humble stance of the many is a witness to the humility of the statement, that we are called to “do unto others as we would have them do unto us;” we are to love others as we love ourselves.
    The man standing at the rear of the depiction is looking at me. He is looking at me … as if to say, “This means you.” None of us are exempt from such a call, none of us are exempt from that dignity, that respect, that humility, none of us are exempt from the call and command to humble ourselves and treat others with dignity and respect, even our enemies if we embrace what Jesus would command.
   The woman looking beyond me was the most intriguing figure for me. I looked back at her as I write this and notice something I had not seen before. Just below her face are her hands, joined together just below the palms, forming a cup of sorts. The “beyond” she is looking at is where I am to go, carrying in that “cup” the love, respect, compassion, dignity, kindness, and justice that I am called to proclaim in the world around me.
   The whole experience and writing this week recalls for me a passage I have cited before when Paul wrote, “Live in peace with all so far as it depends on you.” In other words, I do not respect, treat with dignity, love, “do unto others” because they do those things to me … because as Paul says, it does not depend on “them” it depends on me, it is up to me.
    As I look at our world today sometimes it seems we have lost our bearings when it comes to humility and respect, to kindness and mercy, to love and grace. I can get caught up in it just as easily as anyone else, but that does not make it right. I pray the gift that now graces my office wall will be a constant reminder that I am called to be humble and reverent, that it is up to me, and that I am called to carry that posture into the world in which I live, and that I may “Do Unto Others [all others] as I would have them Do Unto Me.” I pray it may be so for you and for me.

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