The Golden Rule or the Ethic of Reciprocity is a moral standard that pervades human societies the world over.
It is reported by the Gospel writers to have been taught by Jesus.
"So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets."
The moral standard can also be found in most other religions as well as the writings of secular philosophers.
There are many examples here.
However, I think this moral standard is fundamentally flawed, or at least incomplete. It assumes that 'others' want the
same things as you do. What if they don't?
I will give an example to illustrate this. When I am upset about something, I generally want to be left alone.
I do not want to talk to anyone about it. I just want to seek the strength that is inside me and deal with whatever
problem is upsetting me myself. After a short while left alone, I will generally emerge no longer upset. Many are the
times I have made the mistake of assuming that this is what other people want too. I really should know better by now,
but I still make this school-boy error. Imagine that my lover is upset or in a bad mood and begins to express that to me.
Here's what I would want them to do if I were in their position. I would want them to go out and leave me alone for a while.
So here is what happens:-
Lover of Pete: I am really upset today about this really upsetting thing.
Pete: OK, I'm off to the gym. See ya.
Lover of Pete: B**tard!
So, to my mind, the Golden Rule just doesn't work properly. Indeed, it actually often directly leads to 'others' getting
heartily pissed off at you. I wonder if we can improve on this?
"Do unto others as you imagine they want you to do unto them, bearing in mind they may not want the same things as you at
all, in fact it is pretty much guess work, but give it your best shot anyway, you'll find out soon enough if you got it
wrong as you will very likely find yourself invited on a trip to guilt. If so, next time try something different.
Either that, or just ask them what they want and do that. In fact, that last one is probably where you should start now
I've had a think about it."
Pretty catchy, hey?
Feel free to give me any other suggestions you may have.
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