What is the golden rule?

/ 8 March 2010

There are a few different wordings that I’ve come across for what the golden rule is. Some come from religious backgrounds while others are more secular. None really have different meanings from any others. The one that I seem to think of when asked about the golden rule is this: Treat your neighbors as you’d want to be treated. This encompasses a ton of meaning, but over all it simply ways that if you treat those around you bad you shouldn’t be surprised when all they return the favor with is bad treatment. I might as well spend at least a small amount of time delving into the other interpretations of meaning. I’ll say up front that they don’t differ much, and that they really are individual interpretations. I truth they differ entirely based on location and religious belief. So, for example, the more old-english/ religious (in my mind) interpretation is “do unto others as you want done unto you”. This taps into the realm of certain religious language I won’t mention in a school assignment. But it does layer into the understanding that the physical acts of how you treat someone aren’t the limits of the golden rule but rather anything you do to anyone around you is applicable to any interpretation of the golden rule. Furthermore the very existence of the golden rule shows us that not all rules are based on societies separately or as pairs, but that there is a solid single rule that all those others need to follow. You can liken it to the way the United States government is set up. The Founding Fathers wrote a Constitution that all of the people follow. All laws need to follow the base requirements that it lays out. In a way the golden rule does this, it is itself the central rule under which all of our separate rules follow. However, it is quite important to keep in mind that every individual has their own opinion of what the golden rule is and so each of us individually will be building our own way of interpreting a rule as abstractly defined as the golden rule. None of these interpretations are wrong, they all will contain the same basic message, but each will have that individual’s leaning and separate opinion as well.