Gold or Platinum?

The Golden Rule is oft stated as

do unto others as you would have them do unto you

or

treat others as you would like to be treated.

It appears, in some shape or form, in virtually every religion large and small that’s ever existed. It’s been debated by the great and good philosophers and ethicists since maybe 500 BCE which is a fair chunk of time by human standards.

I don’t like it.

It’s self-centred. It’s all about me. It says I must decide how I wish to be treated and then I can go forth and treat other people in this manner, without considering their wants and needs. It’s selfish.

It’s more than that though; it places myself at the centre of the universe. I am clearly more important than everyone else as they all have like whatever treatment I dish out. This is not a world I belong to, or wish to.

The Platinum Rule on the other hand states (in equivalent language)

Do unto others as they would like done unto them

or

treat others as they would wish to be treated.

That’s so much nicer! It asks you to put yourself into the other person’s position and try and imagine what they would like. It’s thinking about the present they would like to have rather than the one you would prefer to give. It’s about learning compassion, consideration and to treat other people’s differences with respect and understanding.

It also can be self-referential: do I look after myself, do I consider what I want, how I feel? Treating myself well can be a challenge.

In this world I am insignificant. I cannot change the world on my own even if I thought I had the capability. I can however choose how I live. It matters that I live the best life I can and that includes thinking about other people, as well as myself. I make mistakes on a daily basis but give it a go anyway.

There’s also a corollary to this: The Underpants Rule

everyone is the boss of their own underpants so you get to choose for you and other people get to choose for them and it’s not your job to tell other people what to do

In other words, don’t tell other people how to live their life; try living your own.

I wrote this for Nora, who is the RE consultant for Ealing where I am the Humanist representative for SACRE. Nora is creating a set of Key Beliefs. The humanist section referred to the golden rule and when I asked “what about the platinum rule” she said “what’s that?” So here we are.

spacer