“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
That’s the usual way I hear it repeated whenever it comes up. One of the beauties of the golden rule is that no matter how it is expressed: as treatment one would prefer or as trespasses one would forgive, full coverage of human interaction is addressed in the most naturally fair way, karmically one might say. Not only is its proper interpretation all that is required to harmoniously guide human interactions, its misapplication is the cause of most personal grief within relationships, intimate or broadly social.
One of the greatest sources of human misery is the self inflicted martyrdom one chooses to experience by misusing the Golden Rule to amass unpaid debt owed them by people who don’t care. Having devoted ones life to treating the world as one would be treated it occurs to one that the world is not reciprocating in kind and turn against the world for its indifference to ones petulant pains.
In the same way The Golden rule is misused as an excuse for the trespasses for which the trespasser should then ask forgiveness but never does. Part of treating someone as you would be treated is the inherent requirement to understand those one would treat at least well enough to know whether any treatment would be received as given, rather than as the intrusion of ones standards upon another “for their own good” no matter what they think. To automatically assume everyone would be treated as one prefers for oneself is to invite such intrusions upon oneself, when obviously we are all different by natural variation and deserve to be regarded as such.
Between the antisocial unrequited martyrs and the people who can’t be content to mind their own business I think we’ve covered a large part of the ills of human civilization. The economic exploitation of native cultures for their labor and land with priests and peace corps volunteers as the front line assault “for their own good” is still going on at an increasingly insidious rate despite the dwindling wilderness and native markets. Western civilization has never considered whether the people living in the lands it deems fair game actually want to be treated in the manner it has in mind for them. In fact, such considerations are purposely circumvented by the elite leaders of western world by setting up an elite government in these lands by convincing hand picked puppet leaders of what a gold mine for them lies in the land and labor of their subjects once they come up to code and can begin to pay off the debt owed for such malignant advice and all too willing covert aid.
I know I made a giant leap from the individual’s self inflicted grief over personal violations of the golden rule to the imperial wave of the western culture over the past fifteen hundred years, but it is no different than watching an individual ant in fascinated admiration struggling bravely over mountainous terrain with a giant piece of leaf on his trek to his stash and then backing away a little and observing thousands doing the same thing with the last transportable traces of your entire garden. Within western culture live little nanoemperors caring more for the acquisition of their kids’ new sneakers than for the kids making them in sweat shops somewhere in the outlands. Except as “must see” suggestion in tourism brochures about great monetary exchange rates, exotic, natural settings at low overnight fares and the last place on earth left to see the endangered whosawhatsits monkey, lizard, bird … the poverty thrust upon the indigenous indigent indicated by the exchange rate and the assault on the wilderness indicated by civilization’s chain-logging threshold never seem to come through. The leaders of a country wonderful enough for its citizens to afford to visit and sneer at these far flung frontiers of capitalism surely couldn’t have malevolent purposes for its quaint natives … riiiight!
The inherent guide to knowing when to mind ones own business in the golden rule has benefit in dealing with the crowded conditions of urban centers as a place to merely observe the vibrant variation of humanity rather than feel compelled to enforce conformity to ones own standards “for their own good.” Internationally this intrusiveness is reflected in the nation building agenda the US follows in its campaign to spread neocon capitalistic covert colonialism under the pseudonym of democratic freedom for its own national security and the insurance that “Visa is everywhere you want to be” across the entire planet for their citizens to conveniently share in the exploitation.
I don’t know if there is any way to calculate the portion of earth’s population that has either yet to swallow the hook of western civilization, the indigenous people, or have coughed up the cultural hook with which they were educated and ill nourished from infancy, but I would tend to believe that it would come to an overwhelming majority of the people in the world. That majority grows in the US as the elite purposefully distance themselves economically from the source of their wealth by demoting the middle class to the lower class by shipping college graduate employment to third world countries. Seen on another scale this ratio of elite to lower class might be approaching the ratio and attitude of SS guards to concentration camp interns.
This is an elaboration of question number four in my post about “Six Questions” to ponder in hopes to clarify and emphasize the importance and the applicable simplicity of the Golden Rule to just about anything that ails you. Whether its application is a cure for or the source of problems depends on whether you want to pull that chain, or push it. One way you get to live life. The other way you have to live life. What a difference. Who knew?
One of my favorite ways to state the Golden Rule is,
“Don’t just do something, sit there.”
“Don’t just do something, sit there.”