“Golden Rule gesture for all of Arizona” published!

Golden Rule gesture for all of Arizona

Golden Rule Moment

Kendra Ruth Guest columnist

This kind of great news seldom is heard or known.

First, a little background: Rep. Mark Anderson, along with countless other faith leaders and community leaders, had the fortune of meeting and knowing Mesa resident Daryl Andersen. He was known by many as the “Golden Rule” guy — the guy who wore Golden Rule suspenders.

Perhaps many readers may remember Daryl’s efforts, sharing Golden Rule bumper stickers, meeting with religious leaders to bridge differences and his passion for educating the community about the Golden Rule. Gradually, it became clear that the Golden Rule wasn’t just for one religion but was common in most faiths, as well as being a standard for many secular ethics.

With Mark’s character and familiarity with the Golden Rule, the scene was set for our Golden Moment to happen at the state Legislature. In a recent interview, he shared how members of the Arizona Interfaith Movement (AZIFM) approached him while he was in the House of Representatives. They brought to Mark’s attention the idea of Arizona becoming a “Golden Rule state.” In Mark’s words, “I was just the person facilitating the process, there were so many people who went and talked to legislators.” I couldn’t help but chuckle as he told us that one of the questions he used to convince his colleagues was, “Are you sure you want to go on record as someone who voted against the Golden Rule?” Yet, through his efforts, the resolution went to the House, to the Senate and then to the Governor’s Office, where it was signed and made official on May 13, 2003. Arizona became the first Golden Rule state in the United States.

Mark also shared a story that occurred while he was later serving as justice of peace. Two men were ticketed for jaywalking, and they expressed how they didn’t feel the charge was fair. Mark heard their story and realized that the nearest crosswalk was about 1 ⁄ 4 mile away from where they crossed. Rather than holding them to their fine, he proposed something different. He had them draft a proposal to the Scottsdale City Council suggesting a crosswalk in the very same area where they were ticketed. Showing empathy by considering how it might feel if he were in their same situation resulted in a win-win for everyone.

As the development/school liaison for Arizona Golden Rule Educational Experiences (AGREE), I have seen firsthand the impact of this statewide resolution and celebrate each person who voted “yes.” AGREE offers the universal concepts of the Golden Rule through folktales from around the world that carry insights about why we live “kindness, empathy, civility and respect” day to day.

Another unique outcome of becoming a Golden Rule state was the creation of a specialty Arizona Golden Rule license plate that reads, “Live the Golden Rule.” Mark encourages others to purchase one.

“It’s a chance for people to express their values,” he said. “If everybody lived the Golden Rule, we wouldn’t need laws, courts, police or judges, because people would be treating each other properly, in the right way.”

In all his professional practices, Mark’s goal has been to figure out how best to help each person he has come in contact with. He has kept a focus on character and educating others, especially our youth, about the Golden Rule. This Golden Moment when Mark Anderson and others helped Arizona become a Golden Rule state will forever be a reminder to each of us to ponder what it means to treat others the way we want to be treated and find ways daily to live it.

Kendra Ruth is a development/school liaison for Arizona Golden Rule Educational Experiences.


Bookmark and Share

Powered by TECNAVIAPART OF THE USA TODAY NETWORK Copyright © 2021 The Arizona Republic 03/13/2021

“Golden Rule creating positive change at E. Valley High School”

“Golden Rule creating positive change at E. Valley High School”

Golden Rule Moments

Kendra Ruth Guest columnist

Each school has a unique story to tell. The following story is about an Arizona school that created positive change by teaching and focusing on the Golden Rule.

As a former Marine and Phoenix police officer, John Baker was seeing the same repetitive behaviors amongst troubled youth that lead to life-altering penalties. He wanted to affect a child’s life before it got to that point. He wanted to create change in that vicious cycle. To make a greater impact, he decided to focus on education and made a major career switch, high school principal. He was hired by East Valley High School, a free public charter school in Mesa.

“When I got to EVHS,” he says, “what I found was kids that didn’t care about themselves, they didn’t care about others and they didn’t care about the language they used. They were just downright disrespectful sometimes.”

Then something golden happened to shift Principal Baker to a solution.

He met with a representative from the AGREE program and realized EVHS would be the ideal place for the Golden Rule to have the biggest impact. AGREE has a mission to “provide educational experiences with high academic standards” and a vision to create a “world of civility, respect and harmony among all people with the Golden Rule as the standard for conduct” while focusing on four compass words: “Kindness, Empathy, Respect and Civility.”

Principal Baker realized that to create an impact, he would need to start with the staff.

“I started with the staff showing the students how to treat each other regardless of how we are being treated,” he says. “We still treated them with kindness, respect, empathy and civility.”

This focus on having staff model the Golden Rule began affecting students’ behavior, who then started to display the same “golden” attributes in return. The students were living the Golden Rule without even realizing it! EVHS staff took note that by living the Golden Rule themselves, they were vicariously teaching students the type of behavior and attitude they would like to see.

The students felt the difference! One student remarked, “These teachers are actually proud of us.” The effect extended to how the students interacted with each other as students began to show respect and civility in the hallways and during class. It was thrilling to witness this firsthand and see teachers speaking with empathy towards the students, using meaningful words and encouraging tones, and hearing the respectful way students were interacting with their teachers and visitors. The “Golden Rule License Plate” painted on a central campus wall was also impressive to behold. Perhaps, the climax of the story is in the correlation between the Golden Rule and the EVHS graduation rate. They went from a 67% graduation rate to a 94% graduation rate in just one year, the same year Principal Baker chose to put the Golden Rule into action.

Because of their schoolwide effort to live the Golden Rule, these “Golden” moments emerged as a dynamic impact. East Valley High School was recognized as a Golden Rule School on AZTV, Channel 7, sponsored by Bashas’ and received $1,000 for their implementation of the Golden Rule. Along with Principal Baker, the AGREE team extends a challenge to other schools to implement the Golden Rule by choosing to treat others the way you want to be treated no matter how you are treated in return.

Kendra Ruth is the AGREE Development and school liaison.

PART OF THE USA TODAY NETWORK Copyright © 2020 The Arizona Republic 9/15/2020

“A golden sunset at the Grand Canyon” by Kendra Ruth, Published!

A golden sunset at the Grand Canyon

Golden Rule Moments

Kendra Ruth Guest columnist

We aren’t always able to see eye to eye. That’s part of being human, right?

But there are those moments, those Golden Moments when suddenly there is connection, harmony and peace.

One day, I decided on a whim to drive to the Grand Canyon. I’d been struggling with certain painful memories and processing the aftermath of COVID-19 in our nation. It was a heaviness that I wanted to release into the Canyon’s depths. Upon arriving, my mind gravitated to a pleasant memory from my last visit to the Canyon. It involved laughing with strangers and huddling closely together while we waited in line. It had been a very cold day. After recalling this memory, I realized how few people there were visiting that day in contrast and how we were all distanced and enduring a colossal heat.

The clouds, however, seemed to consider our situation favorably, for as the sun’s blazing rays seemed unbearable, they were suddenly intercepted by cool and protective cloud coverage.

Along the Rim, there is a path called the Rim Trail. It is wheelchair-accessible, which enables all visitors to stroll along with a constant view of the Canyon’s beauty. I’d been off to a late start that day and though my time was limited, I decided that it would benefit my heart greatly to walk the trail. As I did, I saw couples walking hand in hand, friends laughing in shared experiences and children begging for attention from their parents. Photographers were also busy portraying the vastness of the Canyon through their own unique lenses. I was witnessing such sweet interactions that they turned my mind to the beauty of humanity instead of the initial heaviness I had felt. That’s when it happened, a Golden Moment and experience I’ll never forget.

In the distance, I saw people walking hastily with their cameras, both the young and the old, gathering at some seemingly planned celebration or timed event. As I rounded another ruin, I saw another family dashing to the Rim, cameras in hand. What happened next is what I now supposed to be a sacred and daily occurrence at the Grand Canyon . It was a gathering of picnic blankets and kisses, families nestled

closely together, heads inclined onto each other’s shoulders, tripods set to perfection and a centralized focus on the horizon. It seemed like everyone I’d witnessed throughout the day was there. It was time for the sun to set.

As it timelessly touched the Rim, we were all being glazed in its magnificent colors. Collectively, we remained silent as the sun calmly performed this daily ritual. I looked around and noticed the expressions on people’s faces, so many smiles and peaceful demeanors. At that point, the sun had completely disappeared, and yet the light still reflected off the clouds, fragmenting for a final show of color. I remembered how those were the same clouds that had sheltered us from the sun earlier that day — all of us.

Then, just like that, time sped back up again. A child perched up on a rock nearby started to clap and many of us joined in. It felt like we were thanking the sun for its amazing performance here at the Grand Canyon. As the communal spot began to clear, with people picking up blankets and counting children, I thought how that sunset and the Canyon had brought us all together. It was magical to me because it didn’t matter our background, our personal beliefs, the color of our skin, or our country of origin, just a feeling of oneness. I left that day changed.

Kendra Ruth is the AGREE development/ school liaison.

PART OF THE USA TODAY NETWORK Copyright © 2020 The Arizona Republic 8/13/2020