Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Golden Rule

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

There are creeds and rules to guide us
And help us in life's school,
But the finest creed for every need
Is the good old Golden Rule.

[Folk rhyme]

Kindergarten teachers need to get right to the heart of the matter. Five year olds like information summed up simply. The pithiest summary of ethical behavior I know is the Golden Rule.

It's appeared in human cultures around the world and throughout recorded history. It appears most famously, perhaps, in the Bible:

"As ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise." [Luke VI 31]

"All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them; for this is the law and the prophets." [Matthew VII 1]

It appears many other places, too:

The Dead Sea
"And no one shall do to his fellowman what he does not want done to himself." [Dead Sea Scrolls 2nd C BCE - 1C AD]

Ancient Greece:
"Deal with weaker states as you would think it appropriate for stronger states to deal with you." [Isocrates 436-338 BCE]

Ancient China:
"What you do not like done to yourself, do not do to others." [Confucius 551-479 BCE]

Ancient India:
"The knowing person is minded to treat all beings as himself." [Mahabharata ~800BCE]

"One should treat all beings as he himself would be treated." [Jainist Sutrakritanga ~450BCE]

"If you neighbor's jackal escapes into your garden, you should return the animal to its owner; that is how you would want your neighbor to treat you." [African Bush Proverb]

American poet and educator Edwin Markham suggested that while the Golden Rule is easy to memorize, it is a bit more challenging to apply when he said,

"We have committed the Golden Rule to memory, let us now commit it to life." [Edwin Markham 1852-1940]

Teddy Beard's example is worthy of our consideration:
"The Golden Rule is like a compass. I keep it always in my pocket, and, if I am ever lost or disoriented, I take it out and immediately know which way to go."

If we—all of us rascally humans, especially those of us in high places—let the Golden Rule guide us, we would find our world a happier place.

This cute little book is the source of the quotes I used.

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