The Golden Rule is something we are all familiar with but perhaps are unaware of its name.
The Golden Rule exists to provide harmony, it is a tool to direct people towards positive outcomes and enhanced happiness for those who give and those who receive. It can be just a simple gesture – such as a smile – or something more involved, but whatever it is, it is essential that you know that the receiver will appreciate and welcome it.
‘Treating others the way you want to be treated’ is a maxim taught in most religions and cultures; the Golden Rule is a way of expressing that how you treat others influences the way others treat you.
Can the Golden Rule be applied to the planet?
The origins of the principle are extremely old, yet if applied consistently today they would help to improve the health of the planet and almost everything on and in it, especially for humans. Theoretically, if you can feel empathy for another human then you can feel empathy for the world around you as it is another significant entity.
It is possible to see how the principle of treating fellow humans fairly can be extended to treating all life fairly. If we define the golden rule as existing to “provide harmony”, and we want to follow this philosophy, we need to stop prioritising fickle human selfishness. Humans have claimed through selfishness, that like many top predators, our needs have greater value than those of anything else. However, when we seek to respect and appreciate those around us far more- putting aside our inner selfishness, we learn to respect the environment around us as well.
If we were to ask the question “would we like to be treated the way we treat another animal” in terms of unnecessary cruel treatment, for many the answer would be easy. Of course, we would not want to be subjected to cruelty. Then why is it so easily condoned when looking at other forms of life and not just humans? This point is not applicable to the circle of life and the human need for food and other necessities from different specimens. More that humanity has grown from a place of inherent selfishness, that we live with an ultimate motto of selfish ambition and vain conceit.
Our natural instinct is always for self-preservation and for the survival of the fittest, so it is not inhuman that we subconsciously prioritise ourselves. However, it does not keep with the Golden Rule and this self-preservation leads to our destructive behaviours towards the environment around us.
The benefits of implementing The Golden Rule
There are a plethora of different benefits that are produced by the implementation of the Golden Rule in your life, including a new understanding of what it means to give and receive. Much like how we desire to be generous to those around us and therefore to receive in return, we must realise that this same mentality applies to the environment. If we are gracious and considerate of her, the world around us will be generous in return. This is a major item to highlight, that when we learn to provide for the world, the world will in turn provide for us.
If we look upon the actions that we do and the consequences to the earth and to future generations, everything that we do has a domino effect, with one flame being able to light an entire fire. A wonderful quote is this one from Martin Luther King, where he says that “Even if I knew the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree”. This quote is a testament to humanity, and it proves that no bad can come from continually growing and healing. Even if we are facing ultimate extension, we still need to focus on the good in the world rather than the destructive. It costs nothing to preserve your own humility, and so by treating others as you wish to be treated, assumes that you want to be treated in the way that you want, not as the giver assumes. Your kindness can set boundaries as per to what behaviours other people around you will deem to be acceptable. By constantly planting your `apple tree’, and preserving your own humility, you promote a movement of change.
It can be seen how greed and selfishness has sucked the life out of humanity, resulting in us taking far too much from other life and from the planet. The Golden Rule of `Doing unto Others as You Would Have Others Do unto You’ becomes an ideology rather than a statement. Instead of abusing the world that we live in we need to become appreciative of it, the land houses us and therefore we have to treat it with respect.
Written by by Robin Cade