What Matters With the Golden Rule

The "Golden Rule" is one of the cornerstones of almost every society. It is evident in the concepts of Karma and Dharma, and even secular humanism and existentialism. It was most famously preached tenderly by Jesus as "Love thy neighbor as thyself," as a derivation of the Hebrew Bible's directive in Leviticus. And who can forget Jesus's contemporary Hillel the Elder who flipped the Rule on its head by stating: "That which is hateful to you, do not do to another. The rest is commentary."

Most people stop paying attention after "the rest is commentary" part, because doing so emphasizes the importance of the first sentence. But the third sentence is "Now go learn the commentary." I think the ultimate importance of this sentence is as relevant as ever, in this era when click-bait headlines become substitutes for news stories themselves.

Google is famous for its mission statement: "Don't be evil." The Hippocratic oath is similarly pithy: "First, do no harm." But it can't end there for a professional. Golden rules, mission statements, and oaths of duty only serve a purpose if they become the spine to everything else. Not a glib substitute for everything else.

And "learning the commentary"--pro/con arguments, relationship-building, ethics education, and the transformation of knowledge absorption into expertise development--can't be fast-tracked or life-hacked. Learning the commentary is the hard part, the long part. And ultimately the deep part.