Golden Rule

In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets. (Matthew 7:12, NRSV)

Do to others as you would have them do to you.  (Luke 6:31, NRSV)

What goes around comes around. Karma. You get what you give. There are many contemporary ways of saying that the way we treat others will be the way that others treat us. The imperative can be stated positively, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” or negatively, “do not treat others in ways that you would not want to be treated.” This guide for living is found in the passages from Matthew and Luke above. We call it the “Golden Rule.” Most of us were taught the Golden Rule, and as parents or teachers, we have taught it to others.

The internet makes it very easy to find the same guideline expressed in various ways in many other religions. In Judaism: “What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow: this is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn” (Shabbath folio:31aBabylonian Talmud). In Hinduism: “This is the sum of duty: do not do to others what would cause pain if done to you” (Mahabharata 5:1517). In Islam: “None of you [truly] believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself” (Number 13 of Imam Al-Nawawi’s Forty Hadiths).

What does the Golden Rule mean when we are all living in the midst of the world’s worst pandemic in a century? It means that decisions about what we will or will not do always take into consideration their impact on others. It means I will wear a mask to protect others from any virus I may be carrying (even if I am asymptomatic) because I care about them and I want them to wear a mask to protect me from any virus they may have (even if they are asymptomatic). It means if I learn that I have been exposed to someone with the virus, then I will share that information with those who have come into contact with me because I care about them and I would want them to let me know. It means I will not engage in behaviors that would put me at high risk because I care about others and I would not want to pick up and pass on the virus, and I hope they are doing the same for me.
All of us have said more times than we can count that these are uncertain, challenging times. What is not uncertain is the Golden Rule. We are called to treat others the way we want to be treated. Actually, as followers of Jesus, we are called to do even more—to love others—because God first loved us. The Golden Rule is a practical first-step guide to loving others in the here-and-now of a global pandemic.
Rev. Dr. Sharon Harris-Ewing
Assistant Minister