The Gold-Plated Rule

by Haider on March 1, 2010 · 9 comments

in Ethics

The Golden Rule is an ethical code that transcends cultural and religious boundaries. It appears in the teachings of the world’s religions and acts as a moral compass for us to navigate the course we take through our daily decisions.

The most popular form of the Golden Rule is:

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
~ Jesus Christ

There are many benefits to living by the Golden Rule, which I can’t recount in a single blog post. But I would like to highlight 3 lessons from the Golden Rule:

1- The Two Sides of Social Interactions

There is a huge difference between mocking someone and being mocked by someone. You may enjoy mocking others, but don’t appreciate being mocked. You may enjoy hurting others, but don’t enjoy getting hurt. The Golden Rule asks us to empathize with the person on the other side of the interaction: If we do not appreciate being treated in the same way we treat them, then we shouldn’t treat them that way.

Whenever we interact with others, we should consider both sides of the interaction, and not treat others in a way we wouldn’t like to be treated.

2- Mutual Happiness

The Golden Rule expects us to respect and value our own happiness, as well as the happiness of others. Since we appreciate it when others contribute to our happiness, we should enjoy contributing to theirs. It is not a matter of either I’m happy, or others are happy. We can work together so that everyone is happy.

3- Setting an Example

The way you treat others sets an example to others on how they should treat you. Therefore, rather than expect others to change, you should take responsibility for your own conduct, and set a positive example for others to follow, in how they deal with you, and how they deal with others. This is a powerful contribution we can make to society: When we work on our own conduct, we encourage others to work on theirs.

All That Glitters Is Not Gold

Sadly, though, the Golden Rule isn’t the moral code we’re living by. Instead, we’re living by a rule that appears golden, but isn’t.

What we’re living by is the Gold-Plated Rule.

“Do unto others as they do unto you.”
~ The Gold-Plated Rule

Instead of considering how others should behave, and setting an example for them to follow, we use the example they already set for us!

If people treat us with disrespect, then we treat them with disrespect.

We react according to their behavior, rather than mindfully living according to our own principles and values.

Rather than challenge the status quo, we conform and contribute to it!

Rather than bring about positive change, we help entrench negative traits!

This is justified in the name of fairness.

If we are mistreated, it’s only fair that we respond in kind. And, of course, we want to be fair, don’t we?

In the name of morality we justify immorality.

We value karma and relish the thought of divine retribution, because we want to see others suffer in the same way we suffered.

The Gold-Plated Rule steers us towards the lowest common denominator in human relationships.

A single act can spread like wildfire in a community, destroying relationships and inflaming bad intentions and evil schemes for retaliation.

The Gold-Plated Rule doesn’t help individuals – and societies – prosper. It helps them self-destruct.

It’s important for us to consciously commit to living by the Golden Rule, and to completely abandon the Gold-Plated Rule.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Manal March 1, 2010 at 8:42 am

Well said Haider.

It boils down to personal responsibility and acting from one’s own truth. But of course this is easier said than done.
Reacting or blaming others is the social norm. We think it’s easier but in the long term it is a very destructive way to live.

Here is to the golden rule!
Manal´s last blog ..Do You Really Have to Do Anything? My ComLuv Profile

2 Haider March 1, 2010 at 10:50 am

Thanks, Manal!

Yes, the path of least resistance is often downhill. :P

3 Trece March 1, 2010 at 7:08 pm

Excellent post, quite valid. I see it in daily interactions with my family. Sad. . .

4 Patricia March 1, 2010 at 10:11 pm

Thanks for sharing.Though it’s hard to follow the Golden Rule we have to pay attention to it in this communicating era.Being assertive is not an easy task
Patricia´s last blog ..Palabras My ComLuv Profile

5 Haider March 2, 2010 at 3:56 pm

Trece, thanks for the feedback. I notice it most amongst family members, and I often sense the inkling to respond in kind. But since I noticed the devastating effects of the Gold-Plated Rule, I had my suspicions about how moral it is.

Patricia, you’re most welcome :) The Golden Rule is very difficult to follow, especially when there are so few people setting an example of how to follow it. That’s why we need to pay special care to set that example ourselves.

6 Free Powerful Affirmations Audio - Claus D Jensen March 2, 2010 at 4:34 pm

I love that expresssion: The Golden Rule!

Thank you,
Claus D Jensen :-D

7 Haider March 2, 2010 at 4:53 pm

Claus, I wish I could take credit for that expression, but I didn’t come up with it.

I came up with the name for its evil twin. :P

8 Chris March 5, 2010 at 10:13 pm

Hi Haider — that’s true, when we think about it, the idea of retribution or an “eye for an eye” relies on weird assumptions — the idea that, when I do something “wrong,” by whatever definition, I knock the universe out of balance. I can only right that cosmic balance, supposedly, by suffering. I think it’s important to expose those assumptions so that we can know what we’re endorsing when we follow the “gold-plated rule” in our lives.
Chris´s last blog ..The Responsibility Ethic, Part 3: Guilt And Morality My ComLuv Profile

9 Haider March 5, 2010 at 11:34 pm

Hi Chris,

Exposing assumptions is on my blog agenda. ;)

And I just noticed the 2nd and 3rd parts of your Responsibility Ethic posts (I’m lagging behind in my Google Reader!)… Heading over to your blog now…

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