The last post suggested that there are inefficiencies in the “Golden Rule” when presented as either, “Do not treat others the way you would not have them treat you” or “Treat others the way you would have them treat you.” These are not “bad” presentations of the rule, but rather only these formats are self-centered versions of the rule.
In an attempt to distinguish these presentations of the rule I called them “Bronze” and “Silver” rules. Again, this is not that the Bronze or Silver rules are “bad,” only that there may be a more compassionate way of living that is embodied in a different presentation of the “Golden Rule.”
Perhaps the presentation of the “Golden Rule” that has been the most helpful to me these past months is: Treat others as they wish to be treated.
Right away you will notice this presentation of the “Golden Rule” it puts the other person at the center of concern. Continuing the last post’s example, I enjoy conflictual conversation but not everyone does. If I lived by this presentation of the Golden Rule, then the way that I engage in conversation will change. Living by this “Golden Rule” would require at least two things: 1) listening to the other person and, 2) setting my own self aside.
Framing the Golden Rule as treating others as they wish to be treated requires that I am listening to the other person in such a way that I learn the way the other person desires to be treated. Thus, some people desire to have conversation that is far more agreeable or less intense than I might desire. Learning about the other person is one of the drivers to develop compassion and empathy.
Secondly, living this presentation of the Golden Rule means that I would have to set my own self aside for the sake of another. Or in the language of Christianity: I would have to die to self. Dying to self is what Christians call “the way of the cross.” The way of the cross, dying to self, is the way of transformation and resurrection.
The reality is, Bronze, Silver or Gold Rules are all worthy to strive for. The goal of the Golden Rule, regardless the way it was presented to you, is to lead us all into deeper relationship with God, others, and self. If the Golden Rule you are following is not leading you into deeper relationships, it may be time to consider how to modify the rule to include greater listening and humility.
Bronze rule – Do not treat others the way you would not have them treat you
Silver rule – Treat others the way you would have them treat you
Golden rule – treat others as they wish to be treated