Take a look at or listen to those messages that were ingrained into your brain and memory during childhood and I’ll bet one message that is nearly universal is the good old Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It was a part of lessons about sharing toys, hurting someone’s feelings, playing fair and many other basic things we had to learn as children. Too bad we seem to have left it back in childhood. It seems the Golden Rule has not come into adulthood with us. At least, that is my observation from watching our nation and world these days. Maybe we think it is only a childhood euphemism or strictly Christian concept. Far from it.
Some form of the saying and idea go back into ancient Egypt, ancient Rome, Persia and Greece, hundreds of years before Jesus said it. The Jewish faith taught it as set forth in Leviticus 19:18. You want something more expansive. There is some version of the Golden Rule in nearly every religion on the planet. Ancient Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, multiple traditional African religions, Wicca faith practice, Scientology and Humanism. Some of the versions are stated as affirmations (do unto others as you would have them do to you). Others put it in the negative (Do not do to others what you wouldn’t want done to yourself). Either way, it is fairly plain and straight forward. Use your own experience to guide how you treat others. How’s that going for us these days? Not so good, huh?
Well, if you think we are missing that mark, I recently found out that there is now a Platinum Rule. It comes out of the writing of Dave Kerpen who takes the whole thing a step further. “Do unto others as they would want done to them”. Such an outlook on life and on others would require empathy and understanding for others. It isn’t about what I would want, it’s about what the other person would want for themselves and treating them accordingly. That may be very different from what I choose to experience.
What an interesting and disturbing concept. Before I do something to or for someone of a different race, religion, economic situation, I first have to have enough honest and open communication to appreciate and understand how they would want to be treated in a particular situation.
Look around at all that is happening in our country and world. How might it be different if we took the time to listen before we act? How might our lives and world be a more humane and loving place if we tried to understand as much as we wish we ourselves were understood?
If you can’t buy into the Platinum Rule, can’t we at least go back to the childhood memories of the importance and power of the Golden Rule? Gold or Platinum, either requires a lot more of us than we seem to be willing to give these days.
Dan Dixson is an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). He serves as Chaplain and Bereavement Specialist at Partners In Home Care Hospice. He can be reached at email@example.com
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