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The One Problem of the Golden Rule

The Golden Rule Poster created by Paul Mckenna. You can order this poster here.

Don't get me wrong. I'm an avid believer, supporter, rememberer, and applier of the Golden Rule (I really try). I've been taught countless lessons, had hundreds of conversations, and shared tears and hugs with strangers when we talked about the Golden Rule and what it means to treat others the same way I want to be treated--you know, about the Golden Rule.

Reciprocity… What a concept…! It can be found in the history of ancient civilizations and in the sacred texts of all major religions and spiritual traditions.

From Confucianism: Never do to others what you would not like them to do to you.

From Islam: None of you is a believer until you love for your neighbor what you love for yourself.

From Buddhism: Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.

From Hinduism: This is the sum of all duty: do nothing to others which, if it were done to you, would cause you pain.

From Judaism: What is hateful to you, do not do to others.

From Christianity: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

From Taoism: Regard your neighbor's gain as your own gain, and your neighbor's loss as your own loss.

From Zoroastrianism: That nature alone is good which refrains from doing unto another whatsoever is not good for itself.

From Bahá'i: Lay not on any soul a load which ye would not wish to be laid upon you, and desire not for anyone the things ye would not desire for yourselves. This is My best counsel unto you, did ye but observe it. (Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh)

From GoldenRuleism: "Do for all others, both directly and indirectly, what you would want done for you." Or "Don't do to any others, either directly or indirectly, what you wouldn't want done to you."

Secular formulation: "Treat others as you want to be treated"

I can't help thinking about the connection between the Golden Rule and Karma as well. The more I give, the more I receive. The kinder I am, the more kindness I receive. The best I give, I receive. It all comes back to us—what goes around comes around!

The Golden Rule also teaches me daily that in order to treat others the way I want to be treated, I have to determine how I like to be treated. I have to know myself. We would need a whole other blog article to open this pandora's box... that will happen another time. As endless as the process is to get to know yourself, I can attribute my own journey directly to understanding and applying the Golden Rule.

It also makes me realize and remember daily that, as I am a unique person, like each and every one of us is, I like being treated in a way that might not be the same as others like to be treated. So, I have to be conscious that I have to treat others the way they want to be treated, as it might be different than how I prefer to be treated. But I have to be honest with myself. What are my preferences? How is it important for me to be treated? This is the lesson of honesty and authenticity that I remind myself of, and I fully embrace, with warts and all, my good qualities and the not-so-good qualities—I am not one or the other. That is self-acceptance while realizing that I need to continue to work on myself.

In living the Golden Rule, I make someone else the center of my universe instead of focusing only on myself. And suddenly, I am aware of multiple realities. While I might be the center of my experience, my neighbor is the center of their own unique experience. All our experiences and realities are real and valid as they are our specific personal experiences. Doesn't that make us equals? There's no way I could consider my experience or reality more important than theirs, which makes us equal. Our existence is equally important. I am neither more nor less; they are neither more nor less. We are equal.

And if it makes us equal? It also makes me equal to all of humanity. And if it makes me equal with all human beings… Shouldn't living the Golden Rule inspire me to be more compassionate? (Compassionate defined as: I see someone in pain, I feel their pain, I take action to eliminate or at least alleviate that pain.)

And if there are painful things, that I become aware of, and that I am fortunate enough not to experience, but that are happening to someone else, shouldn't I do something to end that pain that someone else--an equal, is experiencing? (Replace the word "pain" in the last question with any crisis in the world that keeps you up at night: refugee crises, war, violence, discrimination, domination, environment, etc.)

I believe the Golden Rule can ignite Compassion which, to me, is the fuel necessary for any social justice movement, be it racism, homophobia, violence against any minority groups, income inequality, climate change, sustainability, etc. So, we should be talking about the Golden Rule all day, every day…!

I've been working on projects celebrating Golden Rule Day for a few years now, and I am grateful to be able to bring awareness to this basic, yet crucial principle for society to thrive and survive. There have been many people involved throughout the years in this cause. Inspiring people around the world that have seen the need to spread the principle of the Golden Rule.

I received a message from Charter Board Member Mussie Hailu at United Religions Initiative (URI), who started Golden Rule Day back in 2007: In 2007, URI-Africa and Interfaith Peace-building Initiative (a URI Cooperation Circle member), declared April 5 as "Golden Rule Day" in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He called upon the United Nations, and all citizens of the world, to join them in proclaiming April 5th Golden Rule Day and to commit to living according to the Golden Rule, each and every day, in order to make our world better and more peaceful for all.

Since then, more than 700 organizations in 165 countries have joined in proclaiming Golden Rule Day, and a request for a United Nations declaration of Golden Rule Day is pending before the General Assembly.

I love the collaborations, conversations, insights, and inspiration I have received and experienced in the years I've been involved in promoting the Golden Rule.

This year the Charter is hosting 8 different offerings to celebrate Golden Rule Day: All are available to learn more about here, or just click on the pictures below to go directly to their registration page:

Music from friends playing in rural northwest Ireland, a one-on-one conversation tutorial, a Global Read on GoldenRuleism, a conversation with Paul McKenna, the creator of the famous Golden Rule Poster, travel through time, conversations on the environment, veganism, and compassion for all animals, ending with a movie screening and Live Q&A!

It will be a great day focusing on that magical concept that saves and elevates lives. Think of what life could be like if all of us remembered and committed to living by the Golden Rule daily.

I must confess I'm having a hard time turning the conversation to the one thing I don't like about the Golden Rule, so I'm leaving you with a cliffhanger—I'll come back to that another time.

Join us this APRIL 5! Register for any and all the panels being offered during this amazing day!

With love,



PS: If you are dying to know what the cliffhanger is, email me: – let's talk!