The Golden Rule

I consider myself a former religious addict, brought on by a childhood wherein I was taken to church every Sunday of my life, and we were very involved there. My parents were both deacons, my father was an elder, my parents were youth group moderators, my mother was the director of a Christian folk singing group that some kids started when they were first in college.  The church was our entire social life.  Upon reflection, I came to the conclusion that the unspoken message was “don’t let anyone into your life unless they’re religious” or “the only people worth having in your life are those who believe in God or are religious in some way.”

When I was 21 years old, a man I was dating died suddenly in a car accident. It was devastating. I went into a year of mourning. During that time, I began searching for answers about “the meaning of life” and “where we go after we die.” It was 1972, a time when alternative lifestyles, philosophies, religions, diets, music, etc. were very popular. I became interested in metaphysics, esoteric studies and eastern religions. Those are not bad things per se, but they can become an addiction for certain personality types.

These days I simply try to live by The Golden Rule. I found it amusing — and somewhat irritating — when researching the Golden Rule. There is the Silver Rule, the “Harm Principle/Victimless Crime idea… the list goes on. It doesn’t matter that intellectualists argue for the Tit for Tat theory, or cynically assert that “who has the gold makes the rules.” Some even go so far as to discuss the idea of “passive reciprocity vs. no harm.” To me (and I’m a lover of philosophy and theology) it’s a vague mishmash of intellectual hogwash that serves us very little.

Just. be. nice! Is that such a difficult concept? And no, I don’t want to debate what constitutes “nice!”

I believe that, as much as possible, we should try to do for others what we would do for ourselves. We should treat others as nicely as possible. That’s not always possible or even desirable when dealing with jerks but it’s something to strive for, and I believe we shouldn’t lose the desire to do so no matter how difficult life becomes.

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