The Golden Rule

There are two basic versions of the Golden Rule, with a bunch of variations found in virtually every major religion in the world. It is so common it prolly predates religion and written language.
1. Don’t do to others, as you don’t want done to you. (Negative version)
2. Treat others as you want to be treated. (Positive version)
The first I consider a natural law, because it is telling you NOT to do something, typically harm. I don’t believe any natural law should tell you to do something. The second is commonly thought of as very similar to the first, and is the Christian version, so it is common in this country. It is usually thought of as essentially suggesting the you be ‘nice’ as you want others to be nice to you, but because it is telling you to ‘do’ something, it is very subjective. Someone looking for a quick adrenaline rush can pick a fight completely consistent with the second version of the GR.

The neat thing about the second GR is that it can be literalized easily. In the recent anti-war march in Keene, I had a sign that read “Bomb others as you want to be bombed”. Arrest others as you would want to be arrested. Or the reverse, protest against others as you would want to be protested against.

I’ve been looking for a theme that is already accepted to some degree, in order to attempt to change our violent culture. I think I found it in the GR. When you literalize the GR you can start to see if followed, how it can moderate extremes in behavior. If you know that others will use your own behavior as a guide to do to you, you will tend to soften your own activities so that bad things don’t happen to you.
For example:
A while back on a discussion on children and property rights, someone justified killing a child if they step a foot onto their lawn. The reality is that the debate between liberty rights (occasional encroachment, such as to retrieve a ball that bounced onto your yard) versus absolute property rights will never be settled. Animals fight over property all the time and humans are no different. Here is where the Golden Rule excels at mediating between principles and moderating behavior- Harm others for small encroachments as you want to be harmed for your small encroachments. There is a saying, “paybacks a bitch”, that is how the GR moderates the potential for violence WITHOUT violating principles. It encourages voluntary concessions without giving up rights.

I have fallen in love with this concept. It is not pacifism, or outright aggression, it is already an accepted principle, even if it is conveniently ignored.

The tricky part is creating the necessary pressure needed for this to be very powerful. The first, is we have to follow it. Hypocrisy destroys legitimacy. The second is light coercion. The successful peace movements in the past used light coercion, but not force. This is a huge reason why some succeeded, and others didn’t. You cannot use force against an idea. But through group actions we can create pressure against even powerful well armed opponents. A de-escalatory version of Tit for Tat I think could be used to great effect.
De-escalation means they arrest someone, we immediately respond and try to pressure them, such as embarrass them, taunts, protests, point out their hypocrisy,(it destroys their legitimacy too) and other creative actions.

We have already used tit for tat, but inconsistently. Tit for tat requires followup, which is hard to do in an ideologically guided decentralized movement.
Other problems we have had is we have justified encroachment or actions we wouldn’t want done to us in the name of fighting their aggression. Prominent examples are the chalking, and the bullhorn use. I would certainly consider both to be light coercion, but it also bothered others not involved in the aggression.

I have been trying to find a popular idea, that isn’t necessarily libertarian, but can possibly get us so much closer than dry economic analysis or ranting and raving will. Any thoughts?

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