The 147 suggestions attributed to the Seven Sages of Ancient Greece are so brief and so ancient, and so much from an alien culture that they must be interpreted to have a cogent meaning to a modern seeker of a proper relationship with their personal life. Tip #15 – Empower your friends to do good deeds – is in agreement with my latest reach into providing workable methods for creating a better world for oneself, for one’s species, and for all life. In brief that develops from the mild Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Which progresses to a stronger statement, King James Version, “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you: do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” The more demanding word is should which means that you should help others to live and to live more abundantly.
That moves the sought-for goal of improvement beyond the level already achieved by the follower of the weak form. That level only recommends treating people in a way that is comfortable at one’s present level of personal moral development. The stronger form challenges a person to reach beyond their present level. It makes that suggestion in an abstract way and leaves up to the person practicing that idea to make up their own mind how their actions might be applicable to that word should.
When discussing this problem with my friends I have responded several times to the ancient challenge of stating the essence of one’s religion while standing on one foot. Tuesday I stood on one foot in front of thirty people and immediately toppled over. I was wearing Crocs, a very thick-spongy-soled style shoe, and was having so much trouble balancing that a friend immediately came to my rescue and provided a shoulder for support. Whereupon, I said, “Treat others better than you treat yourself.” Everyone had a good laugh.
I wish that event was an example of, “Empowering your friends to do good deeds” because she certainly did one for me, but I hadn’t toppled intentionally so any empowering that occurred was accidental and not a spontaneous action on my part. For a habit to have become effectively part of one’s personality it must be triggered automatically by the situation, like a reflex, only a learned response. That didn’t happen in this example.
It was relatively easy to mentally practice holding out one’s hand toward a pile of grocery store candy to fend it off, but empowering friends to do good deeds requires a spontaneous situation where that other person’s opportunities are seen and a situation brought into being where they can perform some spontaneous good deed. Hmm, this will require some new kind of mental practice to develop the habit. Earlier today I did demonstrate to some friends how to create a habit, and over the course of an hour made that habit spontaneous when an unanticipated prompt happened.
A beginning for training to empowering others is setting up easy tasks before kids arrive.