I feel the last couple of blog posts are so important that they may be the most important things I ever say. It is a simple statement and it is what I think Jesus meant when he said his Golden Rule. There are many Golden Rules on Wikipedia’s page. Essentially every culture has some statement of reciprocity claiming that if you treat your fellow creatures well they will treat you well in return. I say creature to include all animals, not just humans, because you will discover quickly that if you treat a dog well it will treat you well. This rule will not apply well to hungry meat-eating animals, but they aren’t treating you badly when they eat you, it’s just their way of living.
Wikipedia lists eight kinds of reciprocity – (this is a direct copy of their links)
- Norm of reciprocity, social norm of in-kind responses to the behavior of others
- Reciprocity (cultural anthropology), way of defining people’s informal exchange of goods and labour
- Reciprocity (evolution), mechanisms for the evolution of cooperation
- Reciprocity (international relations), principle that favours, benefits, or penalties that are granted by one state to the citizens or legal entities of another, should be returned in kind
- Reciprocity (social and political philosophy), concept of reciprocity as in-kind positive or negative responses for the actions of others; relation to justice; related ideas such as gratitude, mutuality, and the Golden Rule
- Reciprocity (social psychology), in-kind positive or negative responses of individuals towards the actions of others
- Serial reciprocity, where the benefactor of a gift or service will in turn provide benefits to a third party
- Ubuntu (philosophy), an ethical philosophy originating from Southern Africa, which has been summarised as ‘A person is a person through other people’
A close reading of those concepts will show you that the Golden Rule as I have stated it, which is identical to the King James Version, isn’t about helping other people, nor is it about those others intentionally treating you better. The Golden Rule is about getting into a heavenly state, and when you know how to do that it’s about helping other people get into heaven. It is a vastly greater goal than merely getting people to treat you well by stimulating their mirror neurons to copy behavior they encounter. Jesus was saying what he intended was for his followers to ascend into heaven. This is obvious because he begins the Sermon on the Mount with a ladder to his heaven. It’s called the Beatitudes, and on the eighth step, he says you are in heaven. The first few steps are for people living in misery and the last ones are nearing heaven. Thus one ascends a ladder from misery through more desirable states and ends the ascent in heaven.
Treating your acquaintances as you would like them to treat you is going to create friendly relationships. It is a very good thing to treat people well, to treat animals well, to treat plants well, and even to treat the inanimate Earth well. However, that isn’t going to get you into heaven. Following his instructions, as stated in the King James Version of the Golden Rule, will get you into Jesus’ heaven, and following the instructions as translated in the other versions that replace should with would will only create pleasant relationships with your friends and environment.
Others can help you ascend to heaven if you treat them as they should treat you. They should help you ascend the ladder provided in the Beatitudes.
Everything others should do to you, do to them!