The Nine Carat Rule

January 30, 2013 § 1 Comment

Do to others as you would have them do to you. – Luke 6:31

Recently the Golden Rule has been paraphrased thusly:

 The Golden Rule compels me to say that as I would wish to be treated … in [a situation], so ought I to treat anybody else in that situation…

(Emphasis mine.  The elipses contained the words “with great love and mercy”, which begs the question: because precisely what is at issue is what in fact constitutes great love and mercy in a particular situation).

Notice the subtle shift from  “would have them do to you” to “would wish to be treated”.

Now, there is nothing wrong with “wish” if what it means is that from the framework of Eternity, looking back on our lives, we would wish to have been treated that way.  But the word wish has a tendency to subjectify and temporalize into here and now: to make this about my feelings in the moment as opposed to the view from Eternity.

From the perspective of feelings here and now we rarely wish to face difficulties, even when those difficulties are our own creation and responsibility, and even when we acknowledge their justice.  My own experience is that what I wish right now is often very much at odds with what I would have done unto me given the wisdom of hindsight.    Life’s trials, and especially those trials I have brought upon myself, have been tremendous sources of grace.

This brings us to the case of someone who wrongly believes that a consequence of her own immoral behavior is unjust.  From the perspective of Eternity, anything that reinforces an erroneous conscience – even the rare case of a completely non-culpable erroneous conscience – is a very bad thing indeed.  It is difficult to imagine a case where we would, with the perspective of Eternity, have others do that unto us.

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