Treat others the way you want to be treated.
I remember learning the Golden Rule in elementary school. Not only does this way of life have good karmic effects, but it also encourages one to see the world through the eyes of others and to ensure a daily practice of empathy.
These past two months I have been able to see this simple piece of advice come to life in the most beautiful ways. It started the first night of our trip, when we and about fifteen other passengers deemed our bus out of Cusco to be unfit for travel and requested a refund. Since it was one in the morning, many people had nowhere to stay, so we invited four other young travelers back to our apartment to spend the night. We ended up staying up late, eating popcorn and pastries, and singing until the sun rose. About a month later, we were in Buenos Aires staying in their home, sharing a traditional American breakfast and planning adventures for a week together in the city.
We had another memorable experience on a boat while traveling from Puerto Montt to Chacabuco in Chile. While embarking, all passengers had to climb up five flights of stairs carrying luggage because the elevator was broken. Noticing another young woman struggling to make it up, I stopped to help her carry her bags to the top. We parted ways with a smile and a thank you hug. Later that night we sat on the deck and watched the sun set and got to know each other better, sharing stories of travels and family. The next night we were at her cozy home in Coyhaique with her loving family, talking, laughing, sharing stories, and singing together (which has apparently become a staple of our trip), all while waiting to eat a tradicional Chilean feast her parents had prepared.
Most recently, I was reflecting on the power of living a life that is unconditionally loving to those around you. While staying in Brazil, we planned to find hostels, but one of my best friends from college, Taci, who happens to be Brazilian, coordinated places for us to stay and people to meet up with in Curitiba, São Paulo, and Rio. But it’s really just a ripple effect of good acts. Each family that we stayed with sang Taci’s praises and talked about how they had met her (even if only briefly) and how much of an impact she had on their lives. With the Taci stamp of approval, we were an extension of her, and we were welcomed with open arms into their homes. Now we have our own relationships with these families, but it’s all due to the initial willingness to let complete strangers into their homes.
I can’t help but imagine a world that was made up of people like this. People who assume the best, who don’t judge, who go out of their way to do the right thing, and who treat strangers as they treat their own family. What a beautiful world it would be. It seems quite simple when you say it – just be a good person – but it’s always a nice reminder, especially in a world where there seems to be so much hate in the news every day.
In my own life, I try to remember to treat others the way I want to be treated. I never know when it is going to circle back around.