“Do not do to others what you would not want them to do to you. [is] (…) the single greatest, simplest, and most important moral axiom humanity has ever invented, one which reappears in the writings of almost every culture and religion throughout history, the one we know as the Golden Rule.” ~Ebon Musings, ‘A dialogue for the modern world’, Adam Lee (Humanism)
“The sage has no interest of his own, but takes the interests of the people as his own. He is kind to the kind; he is also kind to the unkind: for Virtue is kind. He is faithful to the faithful; he is also faithful to the unfaithful: for Virtue is faithful.” ~Tao Te Ching, Chapter 49 (Taoism)
“Just as pain is not agreeable to you, it is so with others. Knowing this principle of equality treat other with respect and compassion.” ~Suman Suttam, Verse 150 (Jainism)
“Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” ~The Bible, Luke 10:27 (Christianity)
“One should never do that to another which one regards as injurious to one’s own self. This, in brief, is the rule of dharma. Other behavior is due to selfish desires.” ~Anusasana Parva, Section CXIII, Verse 8 (Hinduism)
“Blessed is he who preferreth his brother before himself.” ~Bahá’u’lláh (Bahá’í Faith)
All peoples of all races, faiths, creeds, and cultures have some iteration of the Golden Rule. It is the core of human interaction, to value one’s counterpart as one’s self. The crucial aspect of this concept, however, which many seem to overlook, is that the value upon which you measure others is solely dependent on how you value yourself. Contention derives from the variations in each individual’s perception of themselves, their self-worth, and what they consider acceptable and unacceptable behavior of others toward themselves.
For example, I have absolutely no problem helping someone financially, to the best of my ability and without selling myself out, and not expecting to be paid back. My father is always that way, my fiance is that way, and I am that way. In the opposite way, I don’t ask for money unless I can pay it back, likely with gratuity. I offer the repayment, and if the other person says, “No, that’s okay,” I take it that the other person has the same mindset as myself, and I accept the denial kindly. There are others who can’t fathom lending money without being repaid. Some people think this is an unspoken rule.
These kinds of opposing views can be moralistic as well. Take the controversial concept of capital punishment. This is the epitome of conflict in individual’s value of another person’s life. On the one hand, capital punishment seems to contradict the Golden Rule, in that you are taking a life, which in theory you should value as highly as your own. On the other hand, it is typically the case that one who is deemed worthy of capital punishment has demonstrated their own complete lack of empathy, or value of others’ lives, and so has revoked their right to have their own life valued at the level which the Golden Rule demands.
What I’m getting at is this: society has begun to shift to a point of individual entitlement and expectation, and that individualist mindset has become so detrimental to other individuals, that the state is attempting to regulate individual mentalities in an attempt to keep order. Look at feminism and what it has evolved into. The feminist movement seems to think that, not only are women entitled to equal treatment without living up to the expectations and skill sets as men in the same field, but this movement is trying to force men not to think like men. If a man holds a door open for a woman, it’s sexist that he thinks she can’t do it for herself. If he doesn’t hold it open for her, he’s an inconsiderate asshole who has no respect for women in general. Why does this happen? Well, look at the girl in the picture below:
Now try to thi… Guys. GUYS! I’m writing again. You can stop staring now. Good? Good. 😉 Now, try to think about WHY a girl would dress like this and yet not want the attention for it in all the places which are emphasized. I don’t know about you girls in the reading audience, but I for one find this kind of dress-up to be EXTREMELY uncomfortable. Having to adjust yourself to make sure you’re not falling out every two seconds. I realize there are girls who don’t have a choice because their… girls… are too big for anything. I also realize there are girls who don’t adjust because that’s the whole point, to fall out. Fine. But the girls that dress this way but act like they don’t want the attention for it seem to me to be in conflict with their values, at least to a point. They want to be at the level of men, but they don’t know any other way but to be MORE feminine. They devalue their civility, their intelligence, their confidence, and their skills to their bodies because they don’t think they can compete. They lash out because they struggle when they really don’t have to. As a woman in a seemingly male-dominated job, I can tell you from short-term experience that confidence and disregard for another’s sex goes a much longer way in equality than showing off the hooters, because I’ve never had to show them off once and I’m doing damn fine.
And then there’s the opposite problem. You see, there’s a difference between changing the acceptance (or lack thereof) of prejudice in society and changing the prejudiced mindset itself. We still have racists in this country (*GASP* I know, right?). We still have sexists and bigots and judgmental assholes. We can’t make people accept those they have sworn off forever. We can’t change the way people think. We can try to figure out where that mindset came from. We can make efforts not to punish people for these mindsets, but teach them better ways of living, or accepting, and of thinking. We can work to reinforce the Golden Rule by reversing it.
For those who try to milk the system of entitlement because they think there’s nowhere else to go, we must encourage and provide example for the success of self-worth and self-confidence. The more you value yourself, the more value you will put on others who value themselves the same way. In the same way, those who refuse or who simply feel they cannot empathize with others, show them themselves. Give them a mirror, tape them at their worst, be them for them, and teach them what it means when they treat others as lowlier than them. It won’t change the world overnight, and some people may never change at all. But to love thy neighbor we must first love ourselves, we must know what we expect of others as well as ourselves, and we must be willing not only to help others better themselves, but to better ourselves in turn.
Love Thyself, Then Thy Neighbor.