Can you imagine what it would be like if we all actually followed these words with deeds? Think of the changes that would come about if those of different races truly acted as if the only race is the human race.

Dear Neighbor, 

It’s pretty remarkable that there is at least one thing that all of us should be able to agree on; all of the world’s major religions and philosophies have a way of expressing the idea that we should treat others in ways that we would like to be treated.

Buddhism: Hurt not others with that which pains you.

Christianity: So, in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

Confucianism: Is there any one maxim which ought to be acted upon throughout one’s whole life? Surely the maxim of loving kindness is such…Do not unto others what you would not they should do unto you.

Hinduism: This is the sum of duty: do naught to others which if done to thee, would cause thee pain.

Islam: No one of you is a believer until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.

Jainism: In happiness and suffering, in joy and grief, we should regard all creatures as we regard our own self, and should therefore refrain from inflicting upon others such injury as would appear undesirable to us if inflicted upon ourselves.

Judaism: What is hurtful to yourself do not to your fellow man. That is the whole of the Torah. And the remainder is but commentary. Go learn it.

Sikhism: As thou deemest thyself, so deem others.

Taoism: Regard your neighbor’s gain as your own gain and regard your neighbor’s loss as your own loss.

Zoroastrianism: That nature only is good when it shall not do unto another whatever is not good for its own self.

So why is the world in such a mess with different countries, sects, parties, races, treating those who are not of their “tribe” as the enemy or not worthy of consideration? It’s pretty clear that there are other values that supersede this supposedly universal dictate. 

On a world scale, this is usually justified with a claim that You have what should be Mine, leading to fights to the death for land and resources. There are individual transgressions that occur and that bring punishment if the perpetrator is caught: fraud, libel, thievery, abuse, and other crimes that violate this supposedly universal rule. Here the claim might be: My needs supersede laws that are meant to protect the public good. 

Then there are the mini transgressions that occur routinely and rarely get public attention. Taking the parking place that someone else has been waiting for. Cutting in line to buy tickets, stamps or cheerios. Not picking up your doggie’s deposits in public places. Emptying your car ashtray in parking lots. Sticking spent gum under the café table. Using all of the hot water. Picking flowers in a private or public garden. Throwing food wrappers on the ground. Wearing a big hat to a performance. These might be passed off as “just” rudeness but each makes the statement that My time, convenience, wishes are more important than anyone else’s which brings us back to the Golden Rule.

Can you imagine what it would be like if we all actually followed these words with deeds? Think of the changes that would come about if those of different races truly acted as if the only race is the human race. Name calling, slander, and demeaning references to political rivals would disappear as would hate crimes directed to those of different sexual orientations or life styles. There would be more spreading of compassion and less spreading of gossip and rumors.

Ah! Pie-in-the-sky thinking. We know that societies do not operate that way. Individuals can though. 

Maybe if we each try to find one way that we can demonstrate that we really believe in the wisdom of the golden rule, we could eliminate one irritant or hurt toward someone else. For me, I’ll start by trying to always take only one parking space. I’ll try to stop thinking that anyone who doesn’t agree with me is an idiot. I didn’t say it would be easy.

Dear Neighbor” authors are united in a belief that civility and passion can coexist. We believe curiosity and conversation make us a better community.

Nan Lund