Fundamentalism and the Golden Rule

The Wiki entry on the ethic of reciprocity or “The Golden Rule” presents a challenge.

The Golden Rule is a fundamental moral principle found in virtually all major religions and cultures, which
simply means “treat others as you would like to be treated.” It is arguably the most essential basis for the modern concept of human rights. Principal philosophers and religious figures have stated it in different ways:

* “Love your neighbor as yourself.” — Moses (ca. 1525-1405 BCE) in the Torah, Leviticus 19:18

* “What you do not wish upon yourself, extend not to others.” — Confucius (ca. 551–479 BCE)

* “What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow man.” — Hillel (ca. 50 BCE-10 CE)

* “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” — Jesus (ca. 5 BCE—33 CE) in the Gospels, Luke 6:31; Luke 10:27 (affirming of Moses)— Matthew 7:12

* “Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you.” — Muhammad (c. 571 – 632 CE) in The Farewell Sermon.



The rule is meaningless without identifying the recipient and the situation. Otherwise, a depressed person who wishes to be killed would be morally obligated to kill others. It has to include an attempt to put yourself in the recipient’s shoes and eva uate how you would wish to be treated if you were in their situation. Another way to rewrite the rule would be “treat others as you would like to be treated, if you were them”.


Why isn’t the Golden Rule taught more comprehensively in all schools? There is no other value that could be taught but of course it has preferably to be taught in relation to a number of other principles which could well include the following;


     belief that we are all members of one human family and that it is our struggle of being in the world that unites us

     acceptance that culture is relative and diverse

     belief that accounts of the religious are inevitably subjective

     a willingness to act repectfully toward other belief systems and be willing to seek such inner core truth and light as they contain

     recognition that fundamentalism is a ‘lust for certainty’ that inevitably leads to a downgrading of  those outside the group


More places to follow up consideration of the Golden rule:



All postings to this site relate to the central SunWALK model in the PhD.

Summaries are HERE


One thought on “Fundamentalism and the Golden Rule

  1. I have Google set to send me email when it finds a reference to the Golden Rule and so was led to your blog Ed.

    I think that one reason the Golden Rule is not taught more extensively (although, there was a time. Remember the rhyme “school days, school days, good old Golden Rule days?), is that most faiths downplay it. There is more emphasis on other doctrines than on this underlying, universal principle.

    I have a site with additional Golden Rule references, including a book that you might be interested in, which draws on the Golden Rule as a guide for everyday conduct. It’s at

    Be Well
    Great article.


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