Treat Others How You Want To Be Treated

The Golden Rule

The golden rule is a fundamental moral principle that urges us to treat others the way we want to be treated ourselves. It serves as a guiding principle for our actions and reminds us of the importance of respect and empathy in our interactions with others. In this article, we will explore the different forms of the golden rule, its historical significance, and how we can apply it in our daily lives.

The Main Forms of the Golden Rule

The golden rule can be expressed in three main ways:

  • Positive/directive form: Treat others the same way you would want to be treated yourself. This means treating people with respect if you expect the same in return.
  • Negative/prohibitive form: Avoid treating others in ways you would not want to be treated yourself. For example, refrain from saying mean things to others if you do not want to be treated rudely.
  • Empathic/responsive form: When you wish something upon others, you also wish it upon yourself. This highlights the interconnectedness of our actions and reminds us of the consequences of our behavior towards others.

These different forms of the golden rule provide various perspectives on how we can understand and apply this principle in different contexts. While exposure to these forms may vary based on cultural and religious factors, they all share a common goal of guiding us towards treating others better based on how we ourselves would like to be treated.

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It’s worth noting that the negative form of the golden rule is sometimes referred to as the silver rule and that the concept of the golden rule is also known as the ethic of reciprocity. For more information on the topic, you can explore the 5 WS page.

Examples of the Golden Rule

Implementing the golden rule can take many different forms. Here are a few examples:

  • If you desire politeness from others, then it is important to exhibit politeness towards them.
  • If you wish to avoid being on the receiving end of rudeness, then it is best not to be rude to others.
  • If you seek selfless help from others, then you should also be willing to provide selfless help when needed.
  • If you don’t want people to selfishly deny you the help you need, then you should not withhold your assistance from them.
  • If you genuinely wish positive things for someone else, then you are also wishing positive things for yourself.

Variants of the Golden Rule

The golden rule has been expressed in various ways throughout history by different philosophers, religious leaders, and cultures. Here are some notable examples:

“That character is best that doesn’t do to another what isn’t good for itself.” – Zoroaster, Persia (circa 500 BC)

“What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.” – Confucius, China (circa 500 BC)

“We should conduct ourselves toward others as we would have them act toward us.” – Aristotle, Greece (circa 350 BC)

“What you shun enduring yourself, attempt not to impose on others.” – Epicetus, Greece (circa 150 AD)

“To do as one would be done by, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, constitute the ideal perfection of utilitarian morality.” – John Stuart Mill, England (1861)

Similarly, different religions have incorporated the golden rule into their teachings:

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” (Christianity)

“That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the entire Law; all the rest is commentary.” (Judaism)

“No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself.” (Islam)

“Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.” (Buddhism)

“This is the sum of duty: do naught unto others which would cause you pain if done to you.” (Hinduism)

It is important to note that these variants of the golden rule may have originated in different cultures and languages, and their exact origins and phrasing can sometimes be unclear. Nevertheless, their widespread presence across different cultural and religious contexts signifies the universal recognition of the importance of treating others with respect and kindness.

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Criticism of the Golden Rule and Potential Solutions

While the golden rule provides a valuable moral compass, it is not without criticism. One common criticism is that it assumes others want to be treated the same way we do. However, this may not always hold true and can lead to misunderstandings or misinterpretations of our intentions.

To address this concern, an alternative called the platinum rule has been proposed. The platinum rule suggests that we should treat others the way they want to be treated. This requires taking the time to understand and consider the preferences and needs of others, rather than assuming they are the same as our own. However, it’s important to acknowledge that the platinum rule also has its limitations and may not always be feasible or practical in certain situations.

Another critique is that the golden rule may conflict with other principles or laws. In such situations, it is important to consider the broader context and prioritize the principles that are more significant for the specific circumstances. The golden rule can serve as a guiding principle, but it should not be the sole determinant of our actions.

How to Implement the Golden Rule

To effectively implement the golden rule, it is essential to reflect on our own behavior and consider how we would like to be treated in a given situation. Some practical techniques to help us apply the golden rule include:

  • Using cognitive techniques to assess the situation objectively. This includes employing self-distancing language and considering how we would feel if someone treated us or someone we care about in a similar manner.
  • Recognizing the various forms of the golden rule and choosing the one that resonates most with the situation at hand.
  • Considering the preferences and needs of others by using the platinum rule in addition to or alongside the golden rule. This involves seeking communication and understanding from others to ensure our actions align with their desires.
  • Taking other relevant factors into account, such as avoiding harm or considering the limitations of the golden rule in certain situations.
  • Remembering that the golden rule serves as a general guideline and should not override other significant principles or laws that govern our behavior.
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By actively applying these techniques, we can engage in more empathetic and considerate interactions with others, fostering positive relationships and a harmonious society.

In conclusion, the golden rule provides us with a moral framework to guide our behavior towards others. By treating others the way we wish to be treated, we promote respect, kindness, and understanding. While the golden rule has its limitations, it remains a valuable principle that encourages us to prioritize the well-being and dignity of others. So let’s embrace the golden rule and create a more compassionate and inclusive world.

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