The True Importance of the Golden Rule

I was speaking to a good friend the other day. I started to share with him that I had started a blog, and that since he and I would often find ourselves speaking about the deep philosophical topics (though would never have time to finish our conversations), I told him to check out my blog. He might find something he didn’t know about me.

Curiously, he asked me what it was about. I briefly explained to him. He then asked me if I had written about “The Golden Rule”, which I hadn’t really thought about it. I mentioned I didn’t exactly have an opinion on it, at least nothing complete. I was telling him, the saying, Do unto others as you would do unto yourself, it definitely doesn’t literally mean what it implies. I just couldn’t figure out what it meant.

So what does that saying really mean?

It’s funny, it actually bothered me long after he left, and I kept thinking, what does it mean? I felt as if I had the fundamental knowledge, you could call it, to answer the question properly, but I just needed to go through my mind and try to have it all come together. It’s like I had the idea, but didn’t know how to formulate the words properly into a sentence.

So what does any sensible person do when you can’t figure out something? Well, YouTube, of course. I wasn’t actively trying to search for an answer on YouTube, but with all that thinking, I really only needed to take my mind off of things…which, ironically involves listening to more philosophy.

Coincidentally, the particular video I was watching, unexpectedly gave me the answer I was looking for, loosely speaking.

The video I was watching was an interview between Dr. Oz and Jordan Peterson. Peterson made a statement about about how we need to treat ourselves as if we’re a person we actually care for, because a lot of times we don’t, and in some ways we’ll treat our pets (dogs) better than we treat ourselves. Which treating your dog like someone you actually care for, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, and actually a good thing. It’s just sad we often can’t even hold ourselves to the same level of compassion we hold for our dogs. We don’t really take care of ourselves, at least not in the way we should.

So what does this all mean in regards to the saying, treat others the way you would want to be treated?

And this is what I’ve concluded so far.

In your mind, take a careful note of all the things you feel are wrong with yourself as well as wrong in your life. Now, imagine what steps you would need to be take to fix all these wrong things? Quit your job? Stop smoking? Leave your partner? Your family? Lastly, and this is the hardest part, actually take the steps you mentally visualized. And this is hard, because sometimes the things we know, deep down, which are best for us, they’re not easy to do, and a lot of times it means facing truths you don’t want to face. Which brings me to my next point. You have to be truthful with yourself, and that’s often the hardest part.

So what should we do after we’ve done all of this?

Well, after you’ve conceptualized a life for yourself which you can actually call good, then, work to make that a reality for everyone else. This takes a lot of self-analysis on your part as well. You have to have, at least a loose understanding, of what “good” means to you. And this will be different for everyone, but in general, “good” should mean whatever would create the best and most meaningful life for you and those around you, because it turns out, when you start really making an effort to make your life better, it makes the lives better of those around you. That’s what I think the Golden Rule actually means.

So, what does this all mean? To try to condense all of this is a bit tough, but I really think the saying, treat others the way you want to be treated, it’s simplicity is perfect. And that’s really it, once you know the best way to treat yourself, in a way, you almost know the best way to treat others, and that’s the goal in life, to build communities where everyone wants the best…for everyone.

thanks for reading,