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Getting to the why behind the Golden Rule

“Do unto others…”

We’ve all heard the Golden Rule in one form or another. But as with all overly idealistic admonitions, we all too often end up merely pay lip service to it, don’t we?

What if instead we worked out why such a rule is in our best interest to follow? In other words, I’m suggesting resorting to the good old “What’s in it for me?” framework.

Lately, I was having one of my occasional “excogitations” — aka mental meanderings — as I was reflecting on some basics of interpersonal relationships.

A few days prior, someone had accidentally (and unknowingly) overpaid me for a transaction. As a matter of course, I immediately contacted them and arranged to return the superfluous funds, which as you would expect, earned me some thank you’s for my honesty, etc.

Now, there are many reasons why one might want to follow the straight and narrow path.

For example, it could be out of religious belief. However, it’s not personally my cup of tea.

Up until now, I would have told you that I did it because I believe in Karma. I wrote about it way back here.

But such reasoning is arguably still hinging on a belief system, rather than facts.

What would constitute a logical reason for treating others as one would wish to be treated by said others?

So in my recent moment of mental clarity, I came to the conclusion that, since no one can ultimately lie to themselves, treating others justly earns one respect and trust in their own self. If I’m to be my own best friend, I want to know at a deep level that I respect and trust myself. If I genuinely treat others like I would like to be treated, even when they wouldn’t know any better either way, I personally would know that I am this person, and that’s all that would matter.

At that point, I would basically be doing it because my good opinion of myself, being one of my most valuable assets, is what I would want to protect for the gem that it is.


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