“Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the Lord.” — Leviticus 19:18 King James version.
Loose translation: do unto others as you would have done to you. Even looser translation: treat others the way you want to be treated.
To me, this concept is so simple, if it were to be followed by everyone, we wouldn’t need many other laws.
The golden rule, as it has become known, isn’t just a “Christian thing.” In doing some research for this column, I found the concept has origins in ancient Egypt, ancient India, ancient Greece, ancient Persia and ancient Rome. Religions from Judaism to Hinduism to Buddhism to Islam to Taoism and even Scientology have similar forms of the statement and philosophy.
You would think with a concept as universal as treat other people the way you want to be treated, we would be actually doing it and this column would be superfluous.
I understand why you would think that, but you would be wrong.
Sadly, even though every major religion (and many minor ones) and philosophies of many cultures want us to be tolerant and accepting of others, we can’t seem to get the job done.
In my opinion, the golden rule isn’t flashy or sexy. You aren’t going to be emulated because you were decent to someone else. It’s not going to generate a hashtag on social media or score you an endorsement deal.
In fact, walking the walk is nearly always not as flashy as talking the talk. I think that is a fairly-well known fact.
Walking the walk is hard. It requires us to think about others BEFORE we think about ourselves. That’s hard. Really hard.
Walking the walk won’t win you medals. You won’t get an endorsement deal, a song or a dance named after you, even if you have a unique or funny walk. It’s just not going to happen, nor should it.
But treating others the way we want to be treated will stop murders. It will end abuse. Fraud and theft will become a thing of the past because no one wants to be killed, beaten or cheated.
Am I thinking too big here? Probably. Humans are basically extremely self-centered. In our early days, when we had to fend off numerous threats to our lives each and every day, this made sense. Kill or be killed was a pretty good formula for survival.
Is it a good idea now? Probably not, but that doesn’t stop many people from living this very ancient way of life. While less of us choose to kill someone, many choose to inflict harm to others by their words and actions.
Technology allows us to use an electronic device to inflict harm without ever having to see or even know the person we are targeting. We can be superior over the wi-fi. “I’m a genius, I can’t really understand how you are still living,” is, sadly, all too common today. Because a snarky thought enters your head doesn’t necessarily mean it should be shared online.
But here’s the good news, we can turn this situation around. If we choose to see and hear each other, we can live the promise of the golden rule.
As always, I welcome your comments. You can reach me by email at email@example.com, telephone 715-268-8101 or write me at P.O. Box 424, Amery, WI, 54001.
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