The Golden Rule

As early as 1674 there has been an axiom known as the Golden Law, now the Golden Rule. Its existence over many years and in various cultures is supported by the fact there are Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God, it is one.  Many persons not of the faith community advocate Natural Law. It is the source of all value judgments. It predates Christianity and exists in non-Christian societies. Consider this cursory history of the Golden Rule. It has been around in a variety of forms longer than is known.

The Greek, Herodotus, attributed it to Maeandrus: “I will not myself do that which I account blameworthy in my neighbor.”

Another ancient phrase said: “I won’t do what I criticize in you.”

Around 500 B.C Thelese, one of the Seven Wise Men of ancient Greece, when asked how people might live together best replied: “If we never do ourselves what we blame in others.”

Even before that Isocrates wrote: “You should be such in your dealing with others as you expect me to be in my dealing with you.”

Confucius phrased it: “…do not do to others what you would not want others to do to you.” 

A 16th Century source said: “Treat others as thou wouldst be treated thyself.”

Other ancient writings variously state the Golden Rule:

“Judge your neighbors feelings by your own.”

“What you hate do not do to anyone.”

In the first quarter of the 1st Century A.D. the scholar Hellel, when asked to recite the entire Jewish Torah said: “What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor.”

Jesus said: “…whatever you want others to do to you, do also to them…”  One of the best current phrasing is: “Do unto others as you would have them do to you.” The Golden Rule does not always pay off as it did in the following story, but it does pay off.

It was a rainy day when a young man working in a store saw a little old lady come in out of the rain looking forlorn. The clerk offered her a chair and spoke kindly to her. When she started to leave she thanked him and asked his name.

A few days later the manager of the store received a letter asking that this young man be sent to Scotland to take an order for the furnishings of a house.

The store manager wrote back explaining the young man was not in furnishings and stated he would be pleased to send an experienced representative.

Back came a letter stating no other person would do. The letter was signed by Andrew Carnegie. The house was Skibo Castle. The elderly lady was Carnegie’s mother.

The young man went and did a splendid job. He later became half owner of the store.  He had simply done for the elderly lady what he would have liked someone do for him.