Last week, I was waiting in the usual throng of traffic, listening to my usual morning radio broadcast, when I spotted something quite remarkable. A single bumper sticker on a passing car offered a simple, yet profound statement: “1. Love your god. 2. Love your neighbor. How many other commandments do you need?” In this simple statement, entire books of the bible, numerous hours of motivational speeches, and countless words of advice were summed up for me. Of course I grew up embracing the Ten Commandments to the best of my ability, but until now it has never occurred to me just how simple it really is. The Commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this single sentence: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”(Matthew 22:39) Through the observation of this one verse, people can do all things right. I believe in Matthew 22:39. I believe in the Golden Rule.
If a person were to live by just one rule, it should be the Golden Rule. Through this, all other rules are fulfilled. Loving our neighbors is by no means what we want to do all of the time. Sometimes it is the most difficult task imaginable. But we must remember, God loves us unconditionally. For those of us who wonder just how we should go about this business of loving our neighbor, a verse from Corinthians offers some excellent guidelines as to the meaning of love: “Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. Love never ends.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-10 RSV) Once again we see a common relationship: all these verses relate back to five simple words: Love your neighbor as yourself.
For those who are non-believers, there is not excuse not to fallow the Golden Rule! Not only is it printed in the Bible, but also the rule is common knowledge among every society in the world. Anything on the issue of right and wrong that your parents taught you growing up most likely translates back into the Golden Rule. For example, when your mother told you: “Don’t hurt other people’s feelings,” the counterpart is that you wouldn’t want to have your feelings hurt. “Don’t take without asking,” pairs with the fact that you don’t like to have your things stolen, and likewise with “Keep your hands to yourself,” because you do not want people to put their hands on you. Christians is not alone in believing in the Golden Rule. Every major religion in existence follows the basic principle. Take Buddhism for example. Buddhists live by the four values: metta (loving-kindness), karuna (compassion), mudita (sympathetic joy), and upeksha (equanimity). All four of these things are about loving-kindness, and that loving-kindness is a general wish for the well-being and happiness of others; the Golden Rule.
The Dalai Lama had it right when he said, “Every religion emphasizes human improvement, love, respect for others, sharing other people’s suffering. On these lines every religion had more or less the same viewpoint and the same goal.” It doesn’t matter who you are, where you are from, or what you believe, the Golden Rule truly applies to everyone, in every aspect of life. This, I believe.
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