This morning the news was full of examples of inhumanity to man.
Two police officers were shot in their cars in the predawn hours in Des Moines. A Black church in Mississippi was torched and vandalized with “Vote Trump.” A YouTube Government teacher whom I follow on Twitter had a “troll” tell him to drink bleach because he was a “P.O.S.”
Admirably, the teacher responded with pity, telling the attacker that he thought it must be difficult to go through life with so much hate and anger.
All of these things reminded me of the simplest thing any of us ever learn; “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Treat others the way you want to be treated.
There are three simple things that many of us often overlook about this “Golden Rule.”
- UNIVERSALITY- While Jesus did say it in Luke 6:31 & Mark 12:29 (and I deeply love, am grateful for and try to be devoted to my Lord & Savior), He’s not the only one to teach it. I feel totally comfortable talking about it as a Public School teacher without violating the anti-establishment clause of the First Amendment because there is a version of the Golden Rule in virtually every major world religion AND most secular, agnostic, atheist, and humanist philosophers and psychologists also agree that it’s a great idea. It’s a universal principle that truly transcends sectarian and doctrinal differences.
- CIVILITY- It’s not just analogous to, but pretty much embodies the concept of Social Contract theory as expounded upon by Enlightenment thinkers and American “Founding Fathers” from Locke, Rousseau and Burke, to Jefferson, Madison and Martin Luther King Jr. An exchange of individual rights and privileges for responsibilities to shared principles as a member of community. Compromise. It is the very nature of constitution, covenant, compact- more perfect unity, domestic tranquility, general welfare, even justice itself depends upon the Golden Rule.
- IT REFLECTS OUR OWN PERSONAL SELF WORTH- Most of us (at least in our consumer-driven, materialistic, individualistic, Western, middle-class, White Anglo-Saxon, Protestant world) think of the Golden Rule as an if-then proposition. Mathematical, logical- “If I threat others the way I’d like to be treated, they (in response) SHOULD, ought to, if there is any justice in the universe, if God is doing His job right- they will then (as a result of my playing by the rules & doing the right thing) treat me well in return.
This often disappoints. People are selfish & greedy & inconsiderate. They don’t care about me, they’re only worried about themselves and their own interests. That’s human nature. It’s enough to make you become a Nihilist.
But what if we looked at it in a different way? What if I told you that how you treat others is a unconscious projection of how you believe that you deserve to be treated? What if, just maybe, the Golden Rule triggers the “Law of Attraction,” that principle that says that you get what you give, that what goes around comes around, that you reap what you sow?
What if, the way I treat others is sending them subliminal messages that that’s exactly how I expect to be treated? That subconsciously at least (even if I try to deny it consciously) but inside- if I disrespect you, it means that I don’t believe that I deserve respect? If I’m hostile toward you, it means that I have anger, contempt or self-loathing for myself? If I try to dominate or manipulate you- it actually means that I wish someone would exert control over me?
Does that shift in perspective make you question your own behavior?
Does it make you reconsider other people’s behavior?
Why would anyone ever call someone else a piece of defecated feces?
Remember the Golden Rule is:
- A REFLECTION OF YOUR SELF-WORTH