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Golden Rule Not So Golden


R. S. Martin
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For the golden rule to work, all of us have to want the same thing. Let's say I want to be treated differently from what you want, if I keep the golden rule I will treat you differently from how you want to be treated. Then you are going to be offended by my treatment of you.

 

People have mostly treated me in ways I did not want to be treated. They have mostly taken offense at me when/if I treated them the way I wanted to be treated. That gets extremely confusing:

 

1. They don't like if I treat them the way I would want to be treated.

2. They don't like if I treat them the way they treat me.

 

I have in recent years concluded that the people in my life mostly had a very distorted self-image. People with a distorted self-image automatically mistreat people who are so genuine in keeping the golden rule. When I am with people who have a solid self-image and self-esteem, I normally get along just fine.

 

I NEVER got along with my family and community, no matter how hard I tried and how many sacrifices I made for the others. Nothing allienated people like when I kept the golden rule. As a natural consequence, I hate the very sound of the words "golden rule."

 

A few years ago, I took one of my sisters to visit the school where I am studying. She commented to me afterward in a tone of pure amazement that people treated me like a normal person.

 

I still have not unpacked all the implications of that statement. The implications are HUGE. They clinch what I have suspected for quite a long time, ever since I started studying secular humanist values. They just hate me. Period.

 

Since I am the first-born, there is no one to tell me how this started. I am very sure that it started with my mother. She must have been disappointed in me simply for being me when I was a tiny infant.

 

She denies it flat-out, left and right. Earlier this fall I visited my parents. They kept raising issues about my infancy and how much they loved me.

 

I had not raised the topic for some years. They did. It was them who raised the issue. Mainly I just didn't respond a lot. What was the point? I had not come to fight; I had come for no other reason than the fact that I needed their signatures to prove that I was the first generation university student of our family. I discovered that a bursary is available for first generation students but I needed their signature to prove it.

 

They willingly gave me their signatures. I was surprised by this because they hate my decisions so much. But I did not question their motive. I just accepted. And I stayed to visit for about an hour. If I had kept the golden rule I would have discussed the issues in depth but I knew that would only get a huge fight going and hurt a lot of feelings, not least of which are my own.

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For the golden rule to work, all of us have to want the same thing. Let's say I want to be treated differently from what you want, if I keep the golden rule I will treat you differently from how you want to be treated. Then you are going to be offended by my treatment of you.

 

People have mostly treated me in ways I did not want to be treated. They have mostly taken offense at me when/if I treated them the way I wanted to be treated. That gets extremely confusing:

 

1. They don't like if I treat them the way I would want to be treated.

2. They don't like if I treat them the way they treat me.

 

Good point. This is why I live by the Wiccan Rede, even though I am not Wiccan. It is much simpler. Do what you want, as long as it harms no one. Granted, this can be interpreted in different ways (for example, some people think it means they should be vegetarians, or not defend themselves when they are in life-threatening circumstances). But still, it doesn't make assumptions about people. With the Golden Rule, you make assumptions that may be invalid.

 

For example, what if the person wants to be left alone, but you're an extrovert who thinks they should be around people? Or vice versa?

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For the golden rule to work, all of us have to want the same thing.

 

Yes, but only one thing--everyone has an equal right to life, liberty and property. This is based on the simple assumption of the primacy of sentient life. It is furthered by the principle of enlightened self-interest where we lead individually through example, and socially through social pressure. Of course there are always the ones who want to put themselves above others by violating this right, and that's where the law comes in, or at least it's supposed to.

 

The Golden Rule follows naturally and logically from the one assumption. The fact that not everyone wants to live by that one moral rule doesn't remove them from the necessity for justice.

 

The real confusion comes in when people try to substitute virtue for morality. The Golden Rule, as I've defined it above, does not apply to virtue, nor does it apply to cases of inequality other than under the scope that one right. If you're smarter than me, lucky you, end of story.

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Thanks for your responses. Amethyst is the only person who really got what I am trying to say. Amethyst, you're right on when you say:

 

For example, what if the person wants to be left alone, but you're an extrovert who thinks they should be around people? Or vice versa?
You also said:

 

Do what you want, as long as it harms no one.

 

You call it the Wiccan Rede. I learned that rule in social work classes and in society in general. But definitely NOT from fundies.

 

I figured it's secular humanism pure and simple. The fundies hate the part that says "You can do what you like" and somehow never hear the part "so long as it doesn't harm anyone." They think this allows them to live out all their criminal fantasies.

 

I seriously doubt that their fantasies are so criminal but according to the way they describe what would happen if it weren't for the rules, one gets the impression that they really are evil monsters at heart.

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Platinum rule: Do unto others as they would have you do unto them.

Brass Rule: Do what you want to do and know that there will be consequences.

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I've actually given this some relatively fleeting thought in the past, not as in depth as Ruby, though.

 

It seemed to me that the Golden Rule was not always necessarily the best way to treat people, and that it seemed a little simplistic. OK as a rule of thumb for many circumstances if you're not the sort to try to make everything black and white.

 

I have a tendency to prefer the Wiccan Rede as well. It has a sort of libertarian gist to it that I find agreeable. It has somewhat deeper implications with that "an it harm none" clause. It also makes it more subject to interpretation and I could see it getting pretty tangled with extreme interpretations, although I haven't personally seen any examples of that.

 

If I dare introduce something so light as a pop-culture movie to compare with the golden rule and the wiccan rede (yeah... why not!!!) I think they did a pretty good job in "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" with their "Be excellent to each other," which addresses the question of how to treat each other more specifically that the Wiccan Rede and does a better job than the Golden Rule.

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I read my original post again and finally I am cluing in why people are talking about things like platinum and brass rules. I said I hate the sound of golden rule. Okay, now I get it. You really took me literally. A sort of in-house joke. That puts a smile on my face. Thanks guys!

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I read my original post again and finally I am cluing in why people are talking about things like platinum and brass rules. I said I hate the sound of golden rule. Okay, now I get it. You really took me literally. A sort of in-house joke. That puts a smile on my face. Thanks guys!

If you missed that, then so did I. So how about the Gulden's rule: "When you bring people a hot dog put mustard on it: whether they like it or not!"

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Ruby, The rules as embraced

 

The Golden rule, usualy embraced by moderate christians,,,

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,,,,

generaly well intentioned, if a bit simplistic, any sheep can do it,

 

The Silver rule, usualy embraced by moderate muslims,,,

Do NOT do unto others as you would NOT have them do unto you,,,,

Also well intentioned, a bit more complex, actualy requires thought

 

The IRON rule, respected by Laveyan satansts,,,

Do unto others AS they do unto you

the name is well chosen. and I generaly endorse it ,,,,

 

The Brass rule, central to democracy,

Do unto others BEFORE they do unto you,,

presuposes that everyone else is as nasty as yourself if not worse, Easily lends itself to abuse,

 

The Rubber rule, as found wherever you find beurocrats of any religion (or lack thereof)

Suck up to those above you, while bullying those below you,,

 

 

 

 

there may be others, but I cant think of any right now,

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Oh damm,, the Platinum rule, LostOrFound, I appologise, I missed that,

And its fucking briliant, thankyou.

 

Platinum rule:

Do unto others as they would have you do unto them.

 

 

 

Legion Regalis, thats not the brass rule, see above,

 

The Brass rule:

Do unto others BEFORE they do unto you,,

 

 

You might be thinking of something a tad more perishable, Wood or Paper maybe

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The IRON rule, respected by Laveyan satansts,,,

Do unto others AS they do unto you

the name is well chosen. and I generaly endorse it ,,,,

 

That's the 'rule' I follow. If someone is nice to me, I'll be nice to them; but if they treat me poorly, that's how they get treated in return.

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Legion Regalis, thats not the brass rule, see above,

Ah, I didn't know that Brass was taken. How about this?

 

Iridium Rule: Do what you want to do, and know that there will be consequences.

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Well Legion Regalis, Iridium is dangerous, Pretty but dangerous,

So it does seem to fit,

 

 

everyone else agree?

 

The Iridium Rule:

Do what you want to do, and know that there will be consequences.

 

 

 

 

Sounds a bit like karma

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