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It has been said by Karen Armstrong in her book, Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life, that all religions have some form of the Golden Rule. However, after looking at a number of these different golden rules, it becomes obvious that many if not most people here in Bend, Oregon, live their daily lives in a much friendlier way than is implied by any of those rules. The soft form, “Be nice to people and they will be nice to you”, is not nearly so kind as most people here treat each other. I get the feeling that people here want everyone around them to live a happier and healthier life. That isn’t just being nice; it is being helpful, and people will go out of their way here to make a stranger’s life better in reality. This attitude probably permeates many of the people of the world, but of course I haven’t any experience with nearly all of those seven billion people. However, my experience when traveling abroad, is that when I asked anyone for a little help they were instantly making a genuine effort to be helpful. So, I believe that most adult humans are living their lives beyond the golden rules suggested by their local religion, and most of them would act as The Good Samaritan did when asked personally for help.

Kindness is an innate human quality which is molded by local social traditions to manifest in different ways, but at the root of them all is people helping other people to live a better life. We all have kindness as an inborn quality and therefore it is morally neutrally because we all have it. Morality is an intellectual overlay typically put on after we have done what we did.

Morality is a system of facile rationalizations for our actions, but kindness is a voluntary effort to help another person.