Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Love Beats Hate: The Golden Rule

The Ethic of Reciprocity

One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself
One should not treat others in ways that one would not like to be treated
The quote above is from the Wikipedia entry on The Golden Rule.  This is a standard that I have tried to live my life by.  It is a standard I was raised with.  In the rural Midwest almost everyone I knew was familiar with this concept and most tried to live this as best they could.

Being a Christian, I associate this rule with my faith.  However, this is a tenet in most major religions and philosophies in the world, ancient and current.  It is a rule you can apply if you are an atheist, a deist, an agnositic, a Muslim, a Christian, a Hindu, a Wiccan, or any other belief system.  A child can understand this, an adult can understand this. 

Also called the ethic of reciprocity, applying this rule to daily life and interactions with others relies on empathy for others, reflecting our behavior towards others onto ourselves and feeling the effects that behavior would have as if we were the ones on the receiving end.  For this ethic to work most effectively, each person should feel empathy for others.

How do we get people in this self centered self serving world to be empathetic?  How do we get close minded people to understand when they hurt others with words or actions they are actually hurting themselves?  They are caught up in the "moment" absorbed with inconsequential celebrity.  Their own hubris drives their actions, with their inconsideration of others amplified by their own inflated sense of importance.  Humble has become a term of weakness rather than strength.  Caring for others is a weapon to turn against someone.  Popularity rules.  Bullies win.  This is WRONG.

I wish I had an answer for this.  I was taught these rules from a young age.  I fear the distractability of technology is diluting this message each generation.  I see the reach of the bullies and the name callers and the haters extended and magnified by technology, to the point that those being bullied feel surrounded with no way to escape.  Yet I see my great nieces and nephews and young nieces and nephews living loving and caring lives, practicing the Golden Rule (even if they don't call it that!) in their everyday life.  

Wishing there was a way to magnify and extend empathy that was as popular as as all the hate talk.   A recent post from Sue at InnerDorothy about the play "The Laramie Project" was inspiring. Thoughtful empathetic adults found a way to turn the tragic torture and murder of a young gay man in Laramie Wyoming into a teaching opportunity.  Hoping they continue with their efforts and the education continues.  This is the kind of hate crime that following the Golden Rule would prevent.

Try searching the internet using the term The Golden Rule and see where the net takes you.  There are serious philosophy research papers done on this, organizations based on this, essays searching for the answer to these questions that have been with us from the beginning of time.  Happy voyaging.  Hoping that YOU will be the one that changes the life of another by applying the Golden Rule and better your life in the bargain.


  1. Excellent post! I'm having a why-didn't-I-think-of-that moment.

  2. What a lovely post... I never knew this was called "The Golden Rule" but I have always tried to live my life by it. You are right, it is found in all walks of life and is as present in the "new age" belief systems as the ancient religions. One of my friends has always maintained that if we all followed this one rule, not other rule would be necessary. Thank you for sharing this with us all xx

  3. The Golden Rule has stood the test of time for good reason!

    I was also taught, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."

    Great post!

  4. Jasminepw: Thank you. My grandparents (who were mostly born in the 1800's) would have said the more things change the more they stay the same! Same for the Golden Rule!!!

    ACD: I agree with your friend!!! And it is so simple, yet has very real and far reaching consequences.

    Jenn: You must be a long lost relative, because I was taught that too!!! :) I think we all know these things, sometimes we just forget. Thanks for reading!

  5. This is one of your most excellent post. I think people have become too self centered and calloused. I am not sure what it takes to turn that. I do believe we have to start with our young children. We had better start learning how to love and look out for one another again.

  6. Princes OEATS: I think you are right about starting with our children. I see yours on your website, and they are loving caring adults and they had to get that from somewhere [cudos to you Princess]!!! There are children out there who are not cherished and I wish there was a way to fix THAT too! sigh. When I am appointed Empress of the Universe, this will all get fixed!

  7. This is an awesome post! Thanks for being part of today and bringing your voice to the idea. You rock!

  8. Wonderful post! I was raised in the church as well and even though now I would say I'm more of a Quaker or spiritual love is a huge part of who I am. Christ taught us to love and that is what I try and follow. I thought I would also share a quote with you that fits with this-

    "All major religious traditions carry basically the same message, that is love, compassion and forgiveness the important thing is they should be part of our daily lives."
    Dalai Lama

  9. I have not actually thought about the words The Golden Rule for some time. I do think about treating others with respect and kindness -- even when I'm mad at my hubby I really do try to be nice.

    I think most people are not self-centered and calloused, I think those ones get too much press!


  10. You know a lot of people also mistaken "the Golden Rule" for being in the Bible.... it is not. But, it is certainly a good rule to follow no matter what. Thank you dear for sharing. Blessings.

  11. Diana Lee: Old ladies like me LIVE for comments like "You rock!!" especially when there is no rocking chair involved. Thanks for bringing this event to my attention.

    Lisa: What a great quote from the Dalai Lama!!! I totally agree.

    Jannie: Very true about the "too much press"! What is wrong that these types of people get attention for the wrong things?

    JBR: No, I don't thing there is a Bible verse for the Golden Rule!! But I bet if I worked on it I could find a bunch of supporting verses that mean almost the same thing. Hoping you are having a good week!

  12. Great point! If everyone just put aside their differences and applied the golden rule, then the world would be a much happier place :)

  13. Rellacafa: And it would make all those hair-splitting differences everybody argues about DISAPPEAR!!! Thanks for reading!

  14. I love your thoughts on the "Golden Rule". It got me thinking. What you said about empathy makes a lot of sense and perhaps is what can get us through the times when haters abound. I think giving them the empathy we want ourselves is a great start. Thanks for your post!

  15. Kelly: That is sooooo true. That's what makes it so multidimensional. I'm afraid the haters in this world take longer to understand empathy because it is a quiet emotion that doesn't give you the adrenline rush of anger and attitude.

  16. Winny,

    First things first... YOU ROCK!

    Moving on, it's nice to "meet" you and this is a wonderful post.

    I watched the live streaming coverage of the 2009 Peace Summit in Vancouver from start to finish and they talked about The Golden Rule (by that name and others) quite a bit that day. They had 5 Nobel Laureates, including the Dalai Lama, at this conference and they discussed compassion throughout the summit. I'm not sure if any archived footage is available from the summit but based on this post I'm sure you'd enjoy checking it out.

    It's possible that TED Talks has it or possibly the Fetzer Institute.

    In any event, I bring up the Peace Summit because they talked for many hours about compassion. It was really powerful. I had heard the term "The Golden Rule" before that summit but I only had a vague idea of what it meant. I was essentially taught to live by it when I was growing up. It was just never given that name.

    Lisa's quote above from the Dalai Lama is one of a great many quotes of his about compassion. It was extremely powerful watching him speak at the Peace Summit of 2009 about compassion. He had a lot to say about it!

    I agree with Jannie that most people are not self-centered and calloused and that they get too much press! Without a doubt there are such people out there. I just think the media gives us a skewed perception of how prevalent it is.

    Empathy is incredibly important. Everyone wants their feelings validated and it's so important for people to try to put themselves in another's shoes.

    Thank you for mentioning what's happening in regard to the Laramie Project. In the wake of the tragic incidents that have occurred recently, many similar projects have sprung up (or were already in existence but are becoming more well-known). I follow several such projects on Facebook.

    It saddens me greatly when I hear of such tragedies. Our society most definitely has major room for improvement in the aspect that it's 2010 and people are still being bullied and persecuted because of their sexual orientation.

    It is small consolation and cannot bring anyone back... but it is great to see the power of social media used to spread the word about The Trevor Project, the "It Gets Better" campaign, etc. There are a great many people speaking out about this now online. It is good to see so many organizations working to prevent such tragedies from happening in the future.

    Thank you so much for participating in Love Beats Hate"! This post is excellent because compassion really is such a crucial ingredient for peace and equality for all.


  17. Jeanne: It was such a privelege to participate in this project!!! I have gone through all the posts today, and the diversity and depth of the postings is amazine and inspiring!

    Now I'm going to have to go out and check out Ted Talks and the Fetzer Institute to see if if I can find some video of the Peace Summit.

    All it takes for hate to win is for well meaning people to do nothing. Actions make a difference, so thanks for this opportunity to assist in taking action!!

  18. This is an awesome post! I'm so glad you decided to contribute to the blogging event. I suppose I'm just an old fuddy-duddy, but it amazes me how The Golden Rule used to be something we all knew about, yet now it seems so precious few even know what it is. That makes me sad.

    Keep on blogging. You're a fun read :)

  19. Very well said, and I agree with all my heart! I've often said that we would have a perfect world if only we could all live by the Golden Rule. Seems so simple, yet genius, doesn't it?

    (I'm adding your blog to my blog list.)

  20. Ellen: I'm an old fuddy duddy too!!! Tho reading some of the posts in this event gave me great hope for the younger crowd.

    editor: I agree - being thoughtful of others seems such a no-brainer!

    Thanks for adding me to your blog list!! I get a little goofy sometimes but THAT's how I handle stress..

  21. I think the sentence "Humble has become a term of weakness rather strength" hits the nail right on the head. Unfortunately in our society today it seems like you need to be bigger, badder, and more aggressive in order to be successful. (I see this every day on the Southern California freeways...)

    The Golden Rule doesn't fit anywhere into that philosophy. Too bad, because if we all lived by that rule, we'd be a much happier world. Well, we can all start with our little corner of it :)

    Great post!

  22. Heather: Yes, not sure about why the agression..I see it in all walks of life. Thought maybe it was just because I put myself in the "old not hip" category anymore so I had fuddy duddy eyes looking at it.
    Maybe all the outside influences that people CAN'T control make them more agressive on issues where it doesn't make sense (like driving!!)???

    I'm working on my corner, you work on yours and pretty soon we'll have the western half of the US covered!!!