Golden Rule Applications
Pharaoh Nebkaure ruled in favor of Khun-Inpu even though he was an outsider, a mere peasant who had technically trespassed on land that belonged to a rich and influential nobleman and his donkey had trampled the nobleman’s wheat and eaten his grain. Despite Khun-Inpu’s humble and foreign background, pharaoh recognized that he was an honorable man with good intentions who was forced into trespassing on the nobleman’s land by the foreman who then used the trespass as a justification to assault Khun-Inpu and steal his donkey and his goods. As the Lord of Ma’at, who was said to decree with his mouth the Ma’at in his heart, pharaoh had little choice but to rule in Khun-Inpu’s favor, even though he was loathe to do so and Khun-Inpu had to respectfully remind him of his responsibilities eight times and threaten to take his own life to seek justice in the land of the dead to get him to act.
Can anyone imagine President Obama ruling in favor of Khun-Inpu in any matter? Or Chief Justice Roberts and justices Thomas, Scalia, Alito, and Kennedy of the United States Supreme Court? How about your local circuit court or superior court judges? I didn’t think so.
One could argue that President Obama’s decision to look forward and not backward is an example of applying the Golden Rule because his decision accurately reflects how he would like to be treated by his successor in office for his war crimes for waging aggressive war, using drones to slaughter innocent people, and condoning the use of rendition and torture. However, Ma’at does not permit the Golden Rule to be twisted and perverted to reach and justify an unfair and unjust result. Nemti-Nakht learned that lesson the hard way.
War is justifiable only in self-defense. The war in Afghanistan is a war of aggression because Afghanistan did not invade the United States and had nothing whatsoever to do with 9/11. The United States cannot create a necessity to act in self-defense by killing innocent Afghans to provoke them to attack U.S. soldiers who invaded and occupied their land without consent.
Applying the Golden Rule in more mundane circumstances has proven to be difficult at times. Scholars have engaged in endless discussions and written many books about it. Consider, for example, the vexing relationship phenomenon commonly referred to as men are from Mars, women are from Venus. The answer to this predicament, of course, is to realize that your partner might not want to be treated the same way you would like to be treated in a given situation, so you ask before you act, or do a little detective work first. This behavioral adjustment actually affirms the rule because it respects the other person’s right to be different, which is mutually beneficial and generally beneficial to the relationship.
If we tweak our hypothetical relationship between two emotionally healthy and well adjusted adults, however, and make one person an addict, treating that person the way they want to be treated by supplying them with alcohol, for example, enables and reinforces the addiction to the everlasting sorrow of both people and their relationship. Plug in narcissist or any other major character disorder, including the discovery that your darling “Lovey” is a serial killer or even worse, President of the United States, and you will readily make the connection. This type of situation may be resolved by a negative expression of the rule; that is, refraining from doing something to another person (enabling the addiction) because you would want him or her to refrain from enabling your own addiction. Under either formulation of the rule, the action taken or avoided is driven by the desire to be of service to another as opposed to acting selfishly. One must, of course, be ever vigilant to the infinite number of ways in which a selfish outcome can be disguised by an ingenious mind as acting in the best interest of another person or the common good.
Free market economics, globalization, and the trickle-down theory are examples of acting selfishly supposedly for the benefit of the many, but there is no evidence to support such a belief. For example, the disparity in income between rich and poor in the United States is greater today than it has been since before the Great Depression that began in 1929. Free market economics, globalization, tax breaks for the rich, and the trickle-down theory of economics have made the rich richer and destroyed the middle class in the United States. Greed is not good for anyone and the Gentle One who warned that it would be easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven knew that greed destroys human beings. He wanted people to strive to be spiritually rich, not monetarily rich.
Imagine how much better this world would be if everyone in it honored the goddess Ma’at, others, and themselves by practicing the spirit of the Golden Rule. As Rabbi Hillel said, “That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn.” Christians and Muslims can substitute the New Testament or the Koran for the Torah; the meaning is the same.
The catastrophic problems we face today are the natural and probable consequence of a conscious awareness focused on constructing a self-important identity out of self-differentiation. To say that I am not “X,” however, does little to satisfy my craving to know who I am. It does, however, feed my desire to feel special, and the more special I feel the more unique I become. Satisfaction is missing, however, because now that I have convinced myself that I am unique, I feel entitled to be acknowledged as unique without realizing that I have birthed an addiction that I must continue to feed to avoid an identity crisis. Yet, I need an identity crisis, perhaps many, to reach the Aha Moment when I finally accept that my search for identity through a process of self-differentiation from others necessarily leads to selfishness, isolation, and existential dread because my uniqueness invariably disappears without the existence, attention, and agreement of others to sustain it. Albert Einstein said,
A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.
In what sense do I exist, if not in relation to something else?
Am I not who I am because I am a part of the whole?
And if I am part of the whole, am I not part of you and you part of me?
How can this not be true of all humanity?
When we harm others, do we not harm and diminish ourselves?
How can this not be true of all life?
If it is true of all life, how can it not be true of all spirit?
Is this not the essence of the Golden Rule?
As above, so below.
Are we humans not who we are because we are a part of the whole and does not the whole include our mother, Gaia, and is she not part of all that exists beyond her?
Are we not confronted today by dreadful circumstances of our own making that are forcing us to evolve to a higher level of consciousness in which we define ourselves holistically, accept responsibility individually and collectively for creating the miseries that plague us, pledge to once and for all destroy the Tower of Babble dissolving the boundaries that separate us, and place the good of the many above the good of the few?
We must learn to move beyond merely tolerating others to trusting others as we would trust ourselves. This is the principle of mutuality that is central to the Golden Rule. Although this will prove to be difficult, keep in mind that the prophet Muhammad said, “Do good to those who are worthy of it and to those who are not; if he is a good man, then because he is good, and if he is not, then because you are.”
As in the Sufi parable of the three blind men who each describe an elephant differently because their descriptions are based on touching different part of its body, we must accept and recognize that the One is more than the sum of its many parts. There are many paths to the One and we should respect all of them. As Helen Keller said, “I do not want the peace which passeth understanding. I want the understanding which bringeth peace.”
Let us see ourselves as coequal Ambassadors of the One for whom nationalism, patriotism, the vast array of the rest of the isms, and the formal structure of religion no longer matter. We revere all that exists, as it is as much a part of us as we are a part of it. We celebrate our existence and pledge to heal, protect, and preserve Gaia for she is part of us, our mother, our home, and Garden of Eden.
As T.S. Eliot said,
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Cross-Posted at my blog and Smirking Chimp.
If Not Now, When? is my intellectual property. I retain full rights to my own work. You may copy it and share it with others, but only if you credit me as the author.
My real name is Frederick Leatherman. I was a criminal-defense lawyer for 30 years specializing in death-penalty defense and forensics. I also was a law professor.
Now I am a writer and I also haul scrap for a living in this insane land.