Ethic of Reciprocity


The Ethic of Reciprocity or The Golden Rule is a fundamental moral principle found in virtually all major religions and cultures. It simply means “treat others as you would like to be treated.” and is arguably the most essential basis for the modern concept of human rights.

I don’t remember how I ran across this Wikipedia entry a few months ago, but I found it very interesting, and also a bit surprising. I didn’t know there was a term and encyclopedia entry for something that I took granted as common sense, something that’s just a natural part of life.

I also never realized that this principle is phrased in one way or another in so many religions including Christianity and Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Taoism. I didn’t know it was mentioned as early as in ancient Greek times and that is has been so essential to mankind across the world and a foundation of living together regardless of any cultural or religious beliefs.

This Wikipedia entry also presents a few interesting criticisms of the golden rule. George Bernard: “Do not do unto others as you would expect they should do unto you. Their tastes may not be the same.” Or Karl Popper: “The golden rule is a good standard which is further improved by doing unto others, wherever possible, as they want to be done by.” A concept that has recently been called The Platinum Rule. Others ask how one would know how others want to be treated, or point out possible differences in values, interests or situations.

If I think about it - any deviation from a natural principle will question its validity and therefore require more thought and discussion, and with that also at least one Wikipedia article :)

Well, that was all for today… It’s not just a good idea, it makes sense, it’s what makes peaceful life among so many different beliefs, backgrounds and opinions possible. I often wonder why so few people are aware of it.