The Golden Rule As the Road of Honor 730.5

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 7

  1. While the love your neighbour as Yourslf is found in one form or another, the Book of Leviticus in Chapter 19 from verse 9 or 10 lists about 7 other things that could be looked on as acts or ways to do the main principle even before getting to the main concept expressed here in verse.
    Furthermore it would be wise to take a look at another priniple that was discussed by the Rabbis some 2000 years …
    The real reason of why we love our neighbour is found in Genesis Chapter 1 Verse 27
    G-d created MAN in HIS image, in the image of G-d he created him, male [the giver – DL] and female [the receipient – DL] created he them.
    If you wish to truly love another being you must see this person as created in the image [or spark] of the Divine.
    The Golden Rule when looked on in this manner takes on a totally different dimension.
    Anyone wishing further information I hereby grant premission to release my email address.

  2. I clicked that I loved this commentary. But just as I was about to move on, I felt that the gentleman’s retort had something in it that was in the nature of a put-down, a snub, a statement of his own superiority. I suspect that this is not what Confucious had in mind. Now if the man merely thought that thought, and ended the discussion with a degree of cordiality, that would seem to be more in line with being “honest to liars, fair to the unjust, kind to cruel people” and, perhaps, “respectful of those who disagree with us”.

  3. Brilliant. Thank you for reminding me of the Golden Rule. Our world would be unrecognizable if we all adopted it.

  4. Every since I heard you speak at the FPA event your so spot on with your commentaries. I really appreciate your wisdom Michael! Thank you for all you do.

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