“Don’t treat people the way you want to be treated, treat people how THEY want to be treated” Kim Katrin Milan.
Most of us were raised with the Golden Rule as the standard for human decency. “treat others how you want to be treated. Do onto others as you would like them do onto you”. It seems like solid advice doesn’t it? After all, if you make the effort to give people the same treatment you would want for yourself, it helps you make better decisions in your behavior with others. If you want kindness, give kindness. If you want patience, give patience. Pretty straightforward.
So then what’s the problem? Why change this, if it’s working just fine? Activist Kim Katrin Milan, argues for a different approach. She mentions that the problem with the golden rule is “that is assumes we are the standard for other people. But we’re not. We need to treat people the way that THEY want to be treated. Which means we have to ask“. Turning the golden rule inside out like this, requires that we shift the focus from ourselves and unto the person we want to love. It requires that we engage in conversation, and learn to be better listeners. We say ” I love you” a lot, but don’t ask often enough “How do you want to be loved”?
It’s an important lesson that I learned when in the midst of a breakup, I told my then boyfriend that I loved him. To which he responded, “yes I know. But your love makes me miserable”. He taught me that it didn’t matter that I had the best intentions and made all the efforts I could. I had never bothered to really ask him the kind of love he needed.
True love, is the kind of love that is willing to shift the gaze and focus on the subject of our love. Whether in romance, in friendships, with our own selves, in social justice, in work. We have to be willing to ask people about the kind of love they need. The harder work, is to then let go of own preconceived ideas of what love looks like, so we can truly love people on their terms.
A love that is transformative
A love that is healing
A love that is redeeming
and as Tiq Milan said, “unconditional love is love that is accountable, and hold you accountable“.
Isabelle Masado writes about body compassion on her blog "The Dear Body Project". She knows all too well that the personal is the political, is the community. As such, there is no discussing body compassion without talking about the assault on black bodies, trans women, and people with disabilities. Her mantra is, "How can I live in a way that makes room for you too"? She writes to examine, to heal, to redeem.