It’s called the Golden Rule because it’s valuable and something we can measure ourselves by. But what does it really mean when someone says, “Do unto other as you would have them do unto you?”
This way it’s usually stated isn’t quite correct. How would a masochist act in interpreting, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you?” He’d hurt someone because that’s what he’d like done to himself.
The true meaning is to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Consequently, it needs to be restated as, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you if you were in their circumstances.” It’s not what you want, but what the other person needs. If someone is lonely, offer friendship.
It is universal. That’s why it appears in so many different religious traditions.
The problem in the world is that we’re all so wrapped up in our own wants (our frame of reference) that we don’t pay attention to the needs of those around us. By reaching out, we move beyond our own closed system of daily problems and can benefit from the giving.
But for me, I forget this with my busy life, packed agenda, overbooked schedule, writing projects and book promotion. I have to be aware of not being consumed in the “doing” of daily life and miss the people around me.
That’s why it’s worthwhile to stop, take a deep breath, look around and remember the Golden Rule. It’s a benchmark we can measure ourselves against and an ethical standard for a more fulfilling life.