The Golden Rule
My book ‘ Perspective’ is subtitled “The Golden Rule. That is because I view the Golden Rule as a major component of my hopeful vision of our future world where war has become only PAST history. Utopian? Dreamer? Unrealistic? As questions, or as comments, those words could currently be thought to be accurate. As this is being written (April 2018) President Trump has joined Great Britain and France in striking Syria for its gas attacks on its citizens. Peace seems far in the distance. But the FUTURE depends on our actions NOW.
The Golden Rule has been taught to little children by various religions. Deemed less important than the dogma being simultaneously taught, it is often under emphasized, and taught in a perfunctory manner. In schools it is less intentionally taught, but only as each ‘corrective’ occasion arises. I think it should be emphasized as a major developmental learning process, with increasing age-appropriate content.
The earliest awareness of the Golden Rule appears to have been from Aristotle about 350 years BC who said, “We should behave to our friends as we would wish our friends to behave to us.” Renowned as a humble, and very wise scholar, Rabbi Hillel (born in 100 BC), when asked for a summary of the Jewish religion, was said to have replied, “What is hateful to thee do not do to thy fellowman, this is the whole Law (Torah), the rest is commentary. Now go and study.” The Babylonian Talmud – Shabbat -31a.
I have found over 35 other versions from various religions, philosophers, etc. But my favorite is that of Austrian psychoanalyst Alfred Adler (1870 – 1937) who said: “There is a law that man should love his neighbor as himself. In a few hundred years it should be as natural to man as breathing or the upright gait, but if he does not learn it he must perish.” He places his emphasis on the aspect of a “few hundred years” but appears to have failed to recommend that it should be taught. He did grasp the concept that as long as we go on reacting the way we do to others, that we will “perish.”
The presence of the Golden Rule is so simple and rewarding that it is easy to think that it could be a non-religious and integral part of daily life, NOT as ever being a usual part of religion. That is the state that I hope for it. However, it is a ubiquitous tenet in most religions and is a central theme of this review. WHEN (optimistically) the United Nations approves the concept, I think that it is crucially important that it should be rigorously taught throughout the world, starting at the youngest age possible. It should be introduced before, and in, kindergarten, emphasizing sharing of toys, sweets, tables, chairs, crayons, books etc. and also in sports. This specific emphasis would then be carried through all subsequent grades, and university, adjusting for age-appropriate content),
The result of this emphasis in teaching the Golden Rule during the developmental years, would then result in adult generations in which Golden Rule Actions would be automatic and spontaneous. The Golden Rule would be prominently and automatically and harmoniously employed in all human relationships, such as business, commerce, politics and romance. It would result in much more agreeable interpersonal relations such as between young and old age groups, interracial groups, inter-governmental relations, inter-organizational groups, sports groups, etc.
Being taught, promoted, sponsored and organized by the United Nations, or some other global organization, the most important of all relationships would be the INTERNATIONAL relationships. Amicability at the top level would mean world peace, and wars would be only PAST history.
Idealistic? Utopian? A dream? Yes! But the concept is realistic though still distant in time. The concept only has to grow. Financing would be within the purview of the educational system of each nation and global oversight. It is currently the only viable plan to eradicate the scourge of war. Teachers, clergymen, and church and educational executives should begin their efforts NOW.