The Golden Rule – Time for a return to 11 simple words

Published 6:00 am Sunday, November 5, 2023

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” These 11 words of Jesus are words hopefully most of us were raised on. They are simple – but powerful.

As mayor, sadly more often than not, I have to bear witness to the effect ignoring, even forgetting these simple words, is having on our society. Whether it’s crime, noise, littering, unkept properties, disputes between property owners, rants, lies and slander on social media, or a myriad of other controversies, at the heart of every complaint is a lack of concern or thought for one’s neighbor. Selfishness, rather than kindness, seems to be winning the day, and we see it all across our world. Look at politics, from local all the way up to federal – when will the hate stop? Look at the sadness being experienced in Ukraine and Israel – my heart goes out to these two countries. To watch the news lately, one would think kindness has been tossed onto the trash heap of history.

A couple of years ago, while doing a little Christmas shopping downtown, I discovered at Darby’s on Main Street a small pillow bearing these words: “In a world where you can be anything, be kind”. Of course, I bought it, and it graces my home office to this day.

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Kindness, the very heart of the Golden Rule, is so important to our culture. But sadly, today’s culture seems to be overrun by cynicism, perverting even the Golden Rule into a phrase that is now more often quoted by millions: “He with the gold maketh the rule.”

“Anything for a buck.” “If it benefits me that’s all that matters.” “Who cares how it affects anyone else? As long as I profit, as long as I get what I want, that’s all I care about.” “Someone don’t like it? Just sue them!” These seem to be the mindsets of today. And mindsets like these are slowly, some would say quickly, ruining our world.

I say it’s time for a return to the basic tenant of the Golden Rule. Treat others the way you want to be treated. It’s past time. and it’s also time to realize that if we don’t do this, there are consequences. Relationships disintegrate. Neighbors become enemies. Peace is disrupted. Hate displaces love. And confusion reigns.

Can you imagine a world where everyone has regard for the people around them – a world where people show they care not just by their words but by their actions? I would like to imagine that world – and I would like that world to be Natchez.

We are working too hard. The Natchez Renewal has truly been rolling forward with great results – so many new residents, so many new businesses, record numbers of houses and buildings being renovated, and our city buildings, public properties and parks even being restored. Tourists are visiting Natchez in great numbers, and we just celebrated our 38th Balloon Festival with thousands of happy visitors and hardly an incident.

Ours is a special community – the kind of community so many in today’s world are seeking – a community where neighbors care, where hospitality is the rule and not the exception, and where people and their dignity and right to enjoy their community in peace are respected.

I will be the first person to say I am not perfect. But I am a person who strives to be kind – and I am also a person who has taken an oath to take care of Natchez and keep peace in our community. My intention is to carry out the responsibilities of that oath, and in doing so, to strive to show kindness at every step. We should all live up to the words on that pillow I bought. “In a world where you can be anything, be kind.” Because Natchez Deserves More.

Dan Gibson is mayor of Natchez.