The Golden Rule and political discourse

I just signed on to the “Golden Rule 2020 Pledge”:

“We all have an important role to play to help heal our nation, increase understanding of each other, and bridge our divisions. I stand with other Americans by joining Golden Rule 2020: A Call for Dignity and Respect in Politics. I commit to treat others with respect and dignity as I engage in political discourse and behavior throughout the 2020 campaign season.”

I’m tired of hearing Americans badmouth each other, just because we have differing political beliefs. That kind of behavior is not good for our country. It trashes the commons of our public discourse. More than that, I’m tired of hearing myself badmouth others just because I don’t happen to share their political beliefs. I don’t want to be that kind of person. If others want to engage in trash-talking, that is their choice — I don’t have to make the same choice.

Yes, it’s a bunch of Christians who started the Golden Rule Pledge. But, according to the Internet Encylcopedia of Philosophy (a peer-reviewed Web site), the Golden Rule predates Christianity, and transcends the particularities of Christian doctrine:

“The golden rule is closely associated with Christian ethics though its origins go further back and graces Asian culture as well. Normally we interpret the golden rule as telling us how to act. But in practice its greater role may be psychological, alerting us to everyday self-absorption, and the failure to consider our impacts on others. The rule reminds us also that we are peers to others who deserve comparable consideration. It suggests a general orientation toward others, an outlook for seeing our relations with them….This is a strongly egalitarian message.”

Note that the Golden Rule does not require us to follow such Christian precepts as loving others as you love yourself, or turning the other cheek. All that is required is recalling how we would like to be treated, then trying to treat others that way. If even a few of us do that some of the time, public discourse will become more civil. Equally importantly, from my point of view, trying to follow the Golden Rule is a way to try to be more like the person I aspire to be. Check it out, and see if you want to sign on, too.

#GoldenRule2020

2 thoughts on “The Golden Rule and political discourse”

  1. Lisa, turns out there’s a philosophical difference between the two formulations. It’s worth reading the Encyclopedia of Philosophy article to understand why the two versions are significantly different.

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