What’s so radical about the Golden Rule?
Over the years, I’ve often run into trouble with the name of this site. A lot of people, apparently, have trouble with the word “radical.” I think they must confuse it with the word “extremist”, which is something totally different.
What I’ve found most surprising is just how radical the Golden Rule, or Ethic of Reciprocity, or Principle of Mutuality, whatever term you want to use, seems to be for most people.
After all, every culture and civilization, every faith and philosophy that we know of, past or present, has some formulation of the Golden Rule embedded within it. Shouldn’t it be the most basic and obvious tenet of our lives?
What’s “radical” about the Principle of Mutuality is its mandate for inclusion. Throughout human history, one the primary goals of our religions and secular moral codes has been to identify who is “in” and who is “out.” We’ve segregated, excluded, exploited, and outright exterminated entire populations based on race, creed, color, nationality, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, genetic makeup, and any other real or imagined “difference” that suited us at the time.
In other words, we’ve spent far more time and energy in limiting the Golden Rule than we have in living it.
Because it’s hard isn’t it?
It’s harder to accept that we’re interconnected with everything and everyone than it is to feel obligated to just “those like us.”
It’s harder to fathom a world where all parts, even the ones we don’t like, have a place and a purpose.
That’s what makes it so radical.
That’s what makes it so powerful.
That’s what makes it so necessary to our progress as a global civilization.
The Golden Rule is the most radical concept we’ve ever formulated.
We haven’t figured it out yet. But we’re working on it.
Because it’s only together that we can make this a truly Golden Rule world.
For some additional thoughts, listen to the podcast: