The Golden Rule As the Road of Honor 729.3

Five hundred years before the birth of Christ, Confucius was asked, “Is there one word that may serve as a rule of practice for all one’s life?”

He answered, “Reciprocity. What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.” This basic principle, now called the Golden Rule, can be found in every major religion and philosophy.

Although many people evoke one version or another of this rule, it’s often misused. You see, the Golden Rule is not primarily a rule of enlightened self-interest. Sure, people are more likely to be nice to you if you’re nice to them, but the moral center of this principle is lost if you simply view it as a rule of exchange: Do unto others so they will do unto you. Do unto others as they have done unto you. Do unto others before they do unto you.

The core of the Golden Rule is a moral obligation to treat others ethically for their sake, not ours, even if it’s better than the way they treat us. Therefore, we should be honest to liars, fair to the unjust, kind to cruel people.

Why? Certainly not because it’s advantageous, but because it’s right. And because the way we treat others is about who we are, not who they are. It’s like the man who broke off an argument that had descended into name-calling by saying, “Sir, I will treat you as a gentleman – not because you are one, but because I am one.”

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

Comments 5

  1. Mr. Josephson,
    I heard your broadcast when I drove home last night after a really long day at work. I was sincerely moved by your comments and had shared it with a number of co-workers today. I shall never forget this commentary for the rest of my life. Keep up the good work no matter what the topic is.
    Thank you.

  2. I love the golden rule and find it invaluable. Through search of further development in life someone shared the following: treat people the way they want to be treated. This has allowed me to take the Golden Rule to the next level. My wife never get tire of hearing your message. Thank you for sharing your words of wisdom.

  3. Thank you for a great post, although I tend to disagree a bit. From experience I’ve seen that people sometimes understand their own language. Does not happen too often, but it does happen and the only recourse is to learn and apply their language until the matter is understood.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *