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The Golden Rule or ethic of reciprocity is a maxim,[1] ethical code or morality[2] that essentially states either of the following:

    One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself. (Positive form.)[1]
    One should not treat others in ways that one would not like to be treated (Negative form, also known as the Silver Rule).[1]

This concept describes a "reciprocal", or "two-way", relationship between one's self and others that involves both sides equally, and in a mutual fashion.[3][4]

The Wikipedia Encyclopedia says:

This concept can be explained from the perspective of psychology, philosophy, sociology and religion. Psychologically, it involves a person empathizing with others. Philosophically, it involves a person perceiving their neighbor as also "an I" or "self."[3][4] Sociologically, this principle is applicable between individuals, between groups, and also between individuals and groups. (For example, a person living by this rule treats all people with consideration, not just members of his or her in-group.) Religions figure prominently in the history of this concept.[1][5]

As a concept, the Golden Rule has a history that long predates the term "Golden Rule", or "Golden law", as it was called from the 1670s.[1][6] As a concept of "the ethic of reciprocity," it has its roots in a wide range of world cultures, and is a standard way that different cultures use to resolve conflicts.[1][5] It has a long history, and a great number of prominent religious figures and philosophers have restated its reciprocal, "two-way" nature in various ways (not limited to the above forms).[1] (Please refer to the Wikipedia page for the references.

Read below the croissant for more:

Bullying, racism, hate and violence has taken over much of our culture lately. Is it because of 9/11 and all the fears that went along with that or the development of the ultraconservative movement and things like Rush Limbaugh's radio program and Fox News?

Whatever the cause there is an underlying nastiness that permeates the airways, our politics and in our schools and social networks. Hate groups are proliferating. People are treating others as enemies instead of building communities in support and friendship with each other. When you look at someone as an enemy, you erase their humanity. Then they become the n word to refer to those of African origin, the r word for those of native American descent, or rag or towel heads for those of Islamic leanings. They are no longer individuals but grouped as "the enemy." When did do unto others as you would have them do unto you be turned into do unto others before they do it unto you?

When I was a little girl, the Golden Rule was on all the bulletin boards in my school classes. It was drummed into us from kindergarten on up. It was important that we learn it and practice it. How we behaved towards each other made up some of our citizenship grade. (Do they even have a grade for citizenship nowadays?) I learned it as: "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you." My question is: Do they still teach this in schools and even churches? I know it is not necessarily a religious teaching although one of the commandments of the two great commandments is: Love your neighbor as yourself so it is incorporated into Christianity and Judaism as well as many other international philosophies and religious beliefs.

I want to break down what this means to me. In writing this I do not in anyway mean to sound holier than thou as I have failed in these ideals more times than I can count but I do try to follow them.

How do I not want to be treated? I don't like being yelled at, ridiculed, belittled. I do not like being called names. I do not want to be physically abused, emotionally abused or sexually abused. spit on or ignored. I do not want to be treated as someone's slave or property. I do not want to be treated like an idiot or to be ganged up on. I do not like being nagged or shamed. I do not like people to run guilt trips on me. I do not like being lied to or excluded. I do not want to be intimidated or stolen from. I do not want someone to withhold their love from me.

How do I want to be treated? I want to be loved, accepted and approved of. I want people to show approval when I do something well. I want to be treated gently and as an adult no matter what the situation. I want to be treated as a beloved mother, grandmother, sister and friend. I want to be talked to like the intelligent being that I am. I want to be allowed to make my own decisions and even if they are sometimes wrong to be respected as someone who can decide for myself. I want to be accepted and loved for who I am and not for who someone wants me to be and I do not want to be compared to others whether positively or negatively. I want to be accepted just as me. I do not expect that I will always be agreed with, but I want my opinion respected. I want to live my life on my terms, not trying to please others, though I do like it when what I do pleases others. I want to be treated with dignity and kindness and even if I have made a mistake, I am treated with the respect of and adult and not berated like a child that needs training. I want to be listened to.

How I want to treat others, read above for how I want to be treated. All of that is the way I want to treat others. I try to praise and build up others. I try to respect and accept others for who they are. I do not try to change others as I have seen that people who are constantly trying to change others end up with someone they do not like instead of realizing that it was their first impression of that person that drew them to the other person.

I like a good argument as an intellectual exercise but I recognize your right to have a different opinion. If I become angry with someone I try not to bring up the past or to call them names or to yell and get physical with them. This is hard to do some times, especially with my family members, as I have my own issues and defensiveness that gets in the way of peaceful discussion. I have found that writing a letter gives the other person time to process what I am trying to say as well as makes me be more gentle in telling them what bothers me and we both have the space to come back to the subject more calmly. I also try to deal with my anger with the person that caused it, not passive aggressively with the people I feel safe with.

The old maxim that you catch more flies with honey works well in all my relationships. If I deal with people positively building them up honestly not with flattery but with words of love rather than judgement, I have happier, more peaceful relationships. If someone looks lovely I am not afraid to tell them so. I do not join the crowd and gang up on anyone. If someone is being bullied, I try to stop others from bullying them and then try to find ways to heal them with positive words about themselves. I try to find what I like best in people I do not try to pick them apart trying to find their faults.

Rather than being in a toxic relationship I will walk away rather than being harmed by that relationship and wounding them in the process as well. Sometimes there are people I just do not like or that even if I lean over backward I cannot get along with so it is better to accept that I cannot always like people and to walk away from that relationship, thereby saving both of our dignity. There are enough people on this planet that you can pick and choose your relationships that will help you grow and bloom and who you can help to grow and bloom. Since I am retired I can do this more easily than when I was in the workforce. Sometimes you have to deal with a toxic situation in the workplace whether you want to or not and as a child you may live in a toxic environment. In those situations, speaking positively to people still helps to ease the situation. It is still important to treat those toxic people as you would want to be treated. Who knows where the toxicity comes from? Maybe they are hurting because of mistreatment themselves.

With my children, I try to let them always to feel loved and I try to help all of us to build healthy boundaries. They are adults and deserve to be treated as such. When they were children they had to be led till they learned things. A child takes on the names you give them. I would rather my child take on the name of wonderful, loved, valued and intelligent, than stupid, a problem, liar, or any other negative name. A child will respond positively to positive reinforcement and negatively to negative reinforcement. None of us are perfect and I find that if I focus on the positive aspects of a person, the imperfections that I perceive become less and less important. I find that sometimes their imperfections that I perceive are not necessarily imperfections, just something that I do not understand. Sometimes their imperfections are more of a judgement on myself than actually something that is wrong with them.

When I meet someone from a different background or culture, I join in on the adventure of learning new things, new ideas and new ways of doing things. I love to try new foods and this has brought me much joy in my life. Seeking the humanity in everyone you meet and embracing their differences can make your life warmer, more exciting and richer than if you turn away from anyone that is foreign or different.

I believe that we should start doing a directed teaching of the Golden Rule from preschool through high school. If we begin teaching, not only the rule but what it means so that children can own it internally, can buy into the concepts we might begin to affect how they treat each other. If we start in preschool teaching simple lessons with questions like, how do you like it if someone takes away your toy or hits you and gradually move up to more and more abstract ideas as they get older, we begin to help them to understand that their actions have consequences that shape their lives. If we teach them to love others and themselves, we begin to help them to embrace differences. If they can truly understand the concept of identifying how they feel when they are treated certain ways and begin to understand that others feel the same things, we begin to change the way they deal with other people through the empathy they develop through the understanding of the Golden Rule in a deeply internalized way.

Would this stop the bullying? Would this stop the violence? I think it would go a long way towards mitigating the causes of much of that. Teaching children to respect themselves and others, whether child or adult, changes the dynamics in society. We may have taken religion out of schools but does that mean we have to take morals and ethics out of the schools as well?

I would like to see a Golden Rule movement where we begin a dialogue about interrelationships permeate our society with respect for one another. Who knows what might happen then?

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Comment Preferences

  •  I believe that bullying (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ban nock, Wee Mama

    started eons ago in homes. I don't think it is any worse or better due to 9/11. I have worked with people in psych hospitals, juvie detention, ERs and prisons. In those places I always dealt with people who been bullied or feared it. My career in the mental health field started in 1987.

    I had a high school teacher who bullied me in very passive aggressive ways. I wasn't quite up to speed on that but I sensed that something was going on. It culminated with his telling me that I couldn't go on the senior trip. My hard-working farmer/rancher/road grader driving daddy met the bus the day of the trip and gently told the teacher that I would be going on the trip. Here was a man who had an 8th grade education telling someone with a masters degree that it didn't matter what a prick he had been, it hadn't worked. Of course daddy never said prick. But he got his point across.

    I now consider bullying a disease that has infected families and that in turn infects our systems. Sadly, I don't have a solution to it. Until families learn to use the golden rule, they are screwed.  

    “Listen--are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?” ― Mary Oliver

    by weezilgirl on Mon Jun 23, 2014 at 09:44:40 PM PDT

    •  my son who is extremely shy had a teacher that (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      weezilgirl, Wee Mama

      would have him stand up to be mocked in front of the class. I went in and had a talk with her. Things improved. Sometimes dads got to do what they got to do.

      “Conservation… is a positive exercise of skill and insight, not merely a negative exercise of abstinence and caution…” Aldo Leopold

      by ban nock on Tue Jun 24, 2014 at 04:09:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Great diary. Your golden rule should be embedded (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wee Mama

    in the Community Guidelines here.

    “Conservation… is a positive exercise of skill and insight, not merely a negative exercise of abstinence and caution…” Aldo Leopold

    by ban nock on Tue Jun 24, 2014 at 04:11:58 AM PDT

  •  I remember someone who shared the anti-bullying (0+ / 0-)

    approach at their Catholic elementary school: "Is that how you treat a child of God?"

    Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

    by Wee Mama on Tue Jun 24, 2014 at 07:53:00 AM PDT

  •  The morality of the Golden Rule (0+ / 0-)

    I was raised on the Golden Rule. Later in life I thought this needed re-examination. There's a few variations, but I had heard it as "Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you". If you look at that, you can see that the motive for doing good to others is self-serving. And I question the moral worth of that.

    So what gives an action its moral worth? What makes an action morally worthy, consists not in the consequences or results that flow from it, what makes an action morally worthy has to do with the motive. The intention for which the act is done. What matters is the motive. And the motive must be of a certain kind. Do the right thing for the right reason.

    “ A good will isn’t good because of what it effects or accomplishes, it’s good in itself. Even if by utmost effort the good will accomplishes nothing it would still shine like  a jewel for its own sake as something which has its full value in itself.”
    - Kant

    The motive confers the moral worth on an action. And the only kind of motive that can do that, is the motive of duty. Doing the right thing for the right reasons. Duty vs Inclination. What confers morality is our capacity to rise above self-interest, and self interest sits at the heart of the Golden Rule. If the reason for treating others good is actually about us...then the motive is based on self-interest. You may be doing the right thing, but for the wrong reasons. Isn't treating others a good thing without it needing any further justification? And again; a good will isn't good because of what it effects or accomplishes, it's good in itself and that's where the moral worth is found.

    We should treat others well, because it's the right thing to do. Not because of what it might do for us in return. I would think that rising above our own self-interest would have a more sound moral basis.

    Never trust a naked busdriver.

    by Adagio4639 on Wed Jun 25, 2014 at 12:05:07 AM PDT

    •  I agree but: (0+ / 0-)

      For you to know what is good for another, you have to know what is good for yourself as well. We cannot divorce ourselves from this fact. If we allow ourselves to be abused, we are not doing the best for society. We must know internally what is abuse and work against it both for others and ourselves. When you take part in activism, is it just for others or for improving life for everyone, including yourself. I believe in the idea that you cannot love others, really, until you love yourself. This does not mean self worship but loving yourself so that you get beyond petty resentments and angers. Those who do not love themselves but decide to help others, quite often work from the wrong motives and end up wreaking havoc on others. It is like the person who has all kinds of neurotic issues that decides to become a psychologist. They are doing it to try and figure out their own problems, rather than to help others to get through their mental struggles.

      The same thing happens in people who try to help others in other ways. Sometimes they are trying to help others because it will either push away their own pain (they think) or it will help themselves.

      How much better to be able to do the helping through a feeling of loving you fellow man and knowing that you have that love for them because you have that same compassionate love for yourself. Denying yourself love denies the quality of love that is required to truly love others.

      God wants us to love ourselves and others because he created all of us out of love. Serving others does not negate this fact but makes our service to others bloom. It is like when you have an old beat up car and decide maintenance is not needed because it is old and beat up. If on the other hand you look at the value of that car for its utility, you spend what you must to keep it running. You must do this with yourself. Yes we get beat up in life. We make mistakes, we are not perfect but if we accept the fact that we are doing the best we can and respect ourselves for doing the best they can.

      If we cannot identify when we, ourselves are being abused, how can we truly be aware that someone else is being abused. To live the Golden Rule we must work both ways. If we know how we want to be treated, we can better identify with the needs of others in how they want to be treated.

  •  Finland does teach (0+ / 0-)

    the Golden Rule

    There are days when I think we should just copy Finland's National Core Curriculum and be done with it. The day I read this part, my mind moved much farther in that direction:

    7.12 Ethics
    Grades 1-5


    meeting another person and placing oneself in his or her position

    good, right and wrong, distinguishing right from wrong, human goodness

    the content and meaning of friendship in life

    justice, realization of justice in everyday life, wealth and poverty in the world

    freedom of thought, freedom of religion and personal philosophy, tolerance and discrimination

    a good life, value and norm, responsibility and freedom in life


    who I am and what I can do; stages of life and hopes

    different ways of living, multiculturalism, tolerance

    Finnish culture and Finnish cultural minorities, the world cultural heritage

    philosophy of life, religious belief, presumption, knowledge and understanding, various philosophies of life and world views


    foundations of living together, rules, agreements, promises, trust, honesty and fairness, the golden rule

    rights of children, right and obligation, human rights

    equality, peace, democracy, the world of the future

    foundations of ethics, moral justification of action, purpose and consequence of action, my own life's ethical problems and their solutions


    the environment and nature, animate and inanimate; beauty in nature

    origin and evolution of life; stories about the origin of the world; the earth and the universe; different forms of life; birth, life, and death in nature

    sustainable development and the future of nature; various conceptions of time and their meaning in human life; the world heritage and the environment

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