Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A Flaw in The Golden Rule

Yesterday I wrote about my 2012 resolution to be kind and I claimed The Golden Rule as my definition of kindness.

I'm wrong.

The Golden Rule (in all it's incarnations) asks you to do to other as you'd like them to do to you. In its simplest form this can be beautiful – a well-meant smile or a sincere compliment – but the phrase itself is selfish. Who's to say if others want to be treated the way you like. For example, some women think that a gentleman should open the door for her and others accuse the act as a statement of implied weakness.

Kindness and The Golden Rule, I've decided, are not interchangeable. Instead, kindness – in the deeper sense than general politeness – means to do to others as they'd like you to do to them. It means looking beyond yourself and standing - as best you can - in their shoes. Respect the person to whom you are communicating by having due regard for their feelings, wishes, rights, and traditions.

Maybe you're the kind of person that welcomes a warm hug as a greeting; others don't. If you know someone isn't a touchy person, greet them with a smile and (if you must) a pat on the shoulder. A mundane example perhaps, but it illustrates my point.

And so I revoke The Golden Rule as a definition of kindness and place in its stead politeness and respect. My revised 2012 resolution.


  1. Excellent distinction and clarification. "... as they'd like you to do to them." I like that!

  2. Yeah, the Golden Rule can be really awkward with people if you like being spanked.


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