Posts Tagged ‘Golden Rule’

moon-pond-ripples

Stephen Yolland writes:

I am often asked – surprisingly insistently, by some people, actually – why I keep on rabbiting on.

Why don’t I just bugger off and make more money, or watch some more football, or make love to my wife or just sit and bliss out. (All attractive options, I must say.) Why must I choose to have an opinion on this and that, and with such ferocious passion, sometimes, and why on earth anyone would care, anyway, what I think?

Why do I feel I have the right to pontificate freely on topics of great diversity, and sometimes topics with which I am not, apparently, personally involved?

The answer is quite simple, and it is threefold.

Firstly, I believe we are all born with innate gifts.

Whether these are devolved to us in some spiritual way or merely the result of genetics, accidental wiring and our birth environment I have no idea. I have a suspicion, but I cannot be emphatic. I believe, nevertheless that it is true. It is why some people grow up to be fine artists, administrators, musicians, farmers, pilots, poets and so on. They have a natural aptitude which gets developed.

I believe passionately that the world requires us to build on our aptitudes: to contribute as much as we can with what we’ve got. That’s how the world keeps turning.

I can write. I have a good ear for tone, for a smart turn of phrase, and even though my memory is not what it was (helas!) I have a reasonably good vocabulary.

I cannot walk through this life alone.

I am interested in other people. I am connected. Whether those people are in Russia, America, Thailand, China, Britain, or my own country. I am interested in what makes them tick, why they think as they do, and what the results of their thinking are. “No man is an island”, and I am not. To be interested in other people, and to care about what happens to them, is in my DNA. It’s partly a spiritual commitment, and partly an observation that this is simply how I wish to be. It is an innate part of my humanity to be interested in others.

I know what I think. Well, I think I do.

Last but not least, I am opinionated. I have that type of mind that cannot look at a situation, or a problem, or an opportunity, and not create an opinion. It’s partly because, as a business consultant, it is my training. It is also because I have, for a “creative” person, a very logical and analytical frame of mind. I simply enjoy examining things from all directions, listening to all points of view, and then forming an opinion.

Once having formed an opinion, I then feel obliged to share it. Otherwise why bother holding it?

Are my opinions always right? No. Do I change them? Yes. Do I change them very often? Possibly not. My mother once said to me “If an opinion is worth holding, it’s worth fighting for”. I never forgot that.

What provoked this introspection, Dear Reader?

Howard Goldenberg

Howard Goldenberg

Well, I was privileged today to take a phone call from my friend and business colleague, Gideon Kline. Last evening, he was pleased to have been in the audience for some humanitarian awards the Jewish Aid community were handing out, and especially to have heard an inspirational speech from doctor, runner, activist, charity fundraiser and author Howard Goldenberg.

Goldenberg was speaking about the need for generosity of spirit, especially as regards our relationships with Australia’s first peoples and with the refugees who wish to live here. And his speech was, indeed, inspirational. Witty, apposite, empathetic, warm-hearted, and meaningful. You can read it here.

The speech is wholly wonderful: but what really hit home was his very Jewish insistence on how we are all beholden to continue to fight for a better world. A world in which the Golden Rule “Do unto others as you wish they would do unto you” is the one that holds sway. (The famous rule appears in all the Middle Eastern monotheistic religions in some form, of course.)

I reflected that it is so easy to become discouraged by the intractability of the problems our world faces. And as I reflected, this comment from Goldenberg really caught my eye, and sent me off to Wikipedia to lean more about the Pirke Avoth.

“Our sages taught, in Pirke Avoth – “The day is short, the work is great…

Lo aleicha ham’lacha ligmor, ve’lo atta ben-horin le’hibatel
mimenna …

It is not upon you to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it …”

Along with others that were listed, I found this phrase extremely moving. And I realised it ultimately describes why I, and so many others, (many much more effectively than me), “keep on keeping on”.

I have also heard the exhortion described in a more contemporary way as “Be sure to be a planter of oak trees”. One never sees the fully grown tree oneself, because one simply cannot live that long, but one day someone will, and marvel at its beauty, and rest under it’s shade, and be glad of it.

“It is not for me to complete the work. but neither am I free to desist from it.”

That’s why.

That, and as many have said “When you cast a pebble into a pond, you never know where the ripples end.”

I have no idea whether my words ever change lives.

I know it would change mine if they were silent.

And yes: having grown one in my own back yard, which every autumn gives me a good crop of acorns, I also plant oak trees, occasionally, surreptitiously, around the immaculately native-strewn and over-politically-correct parks of Melbourne, too. In fifty years, they will be the wonder of all who survey them. As famous, one day, as the elms, alders and other wonderful Victorian imports that still lend such a gracious air to our City today.

So sue me, already.

A political candidate quoting Jesus Christ and meaning it. Whatever next?

To the bemusement of viewers all over America, and all over the world, Republicans in the audience for the South Carolina Fox/Twitter Presidential debate loudly booed the Golden Rule in the context of foreign policy January 16.

Libetarian Texas Congressman Ron Paul was talking about respecting the sovereignty of other nations when it comes to American military action:

“My point is that if another country does to us what we do to others, we are not going to like it very much. I would say that we maybe ought to consider the Golden Rule in foreign policy. Don’t do to other nations what we don’t want them to do to us. We endlessly bomb these countries, and then we wonder why they get upset with us?”

Why, indeed? Yet Rep. Paul’s remarks set off some of the loudest “boos” of the evening from the Republican audience, as well as mockery from his Republican opponents.

The Golden Rule is a key part of Christianity and all other major world religions. Perhaps the key part. In Christianity, Christ commands the Golden Rule twice, most noticeably in Matthew 7:12 but also in Luke 6:31. In Matthew 7:12, Christ says, “Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the law and the prophets.”

The controversy which resulted in the massive booing of the Golden Rule originated with a misleading accusation by Fox News anchor and moderator Brett Baier. Baier asked (or rather stated):

“In a recent interview, Congressman Paul, with a Des Moines radio station, you said you were against the operation that killed Osama bin Ladin. You said the U.S. operation that took out the terrorist responsible for killing 3,000 people on American soil, quote, “showed no respect for the rule of law, international law.” So, to be clear, you believe international law should have constrained us from tracking down and killing the man responsible for the most brazen attack on the U.S. since Pearl Harbor.”

Rep. Paul responded that Baier was mistaken about his assertion:

“Obviously, no, and that’s why I did not say that. After 9/11, I voted for the authority to go after him.”

Paul clarified that he believed that Pakistan would have turned over bin Ladin to the United States alive if the Obama administration had requested him.

“KSM, (Khaled Sheik Mohammed) his colleague, was in Pakistan. And we communicated with the government of Pakistan and they turned him over. And what I suggested there was, if we have no respect for the sovereignty of another nation, it will lead to the disruption of that nation. Why can’t we work with the government?”

Paul followed with his Golden Rule statement, suggesting we wouldn’t want other countries such as China coming to the United States in search of dissidents and bombing us.

He also suggested that the United States follow its own constitutional requirement to give a trial by jury whenever possible:

“Think about Saddam Hussein. We captured him, the government tried him and he got hung. What’s so terrible about this? What’s this whole idea that you can’t capture people? Just think, Adolph Eichmann was captured. He was given a trial. What’s wrong with capturing people? Why don’t we try to get some information from him?”

(A very important point, in my opinion, that has been virtually ignored in the celebration of Bin Laden’s death.)

Watch Paul’s comments here:

But Rep. Paul’s Republican opponents pounced on his advocacy of the Golden Rule as a sign of foreign policy “weakness.”

“He’s not a Chinese dissident. The analogy that Congressman Paul used was utterly irrational,” Newt Gingrich responded to Paul, suggesting that trials and honouring the 6th Ammendment to the U.S. Constitution are unnecessary. “Andrew Jackson had a pretty clear idea about America’s enemies. Kill them.”

The 6th Amendment, to save you looking it up, reads “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.”

Essentially, it establishes the right to a trial. It is one of the most important things that all Americans are supposed to hold as an inviolable concept, to be defended at all costs.

Yet, “Speaker Gingrich is right,” Mitt Romney agreed. “Of course, you take out our enemies, wherever they are. These people declared war on us. They’ve killed Americans. We go anywhere they are and we kill them. And the right thing for Osama bin Ladin was the bullet in the head he received. That’s the right course for people that are killing American citizens.”

Texas Governor Rick Perry (who with breathtaking idiocy also chose to condemn the elected government of NATO ally Turkey as “Islamic terrorists” at another point in the debate, and later confirmed that this was, in fact, his view) continued the mockery, saying to Baier (about Paul), “I was just thinking that the noise you were looking for was a gong.”

As Thomas Eddlem at the New American pointedly asks, “With Republicans so resoundingly booing the Golden Rule, one really has to wonder: Whatever happened to the religious right part of the Republican Party?”

A very good question. And the answer of course is simple. Politicians in the United States are religious when it suits them, and not when it doesn’t. And primarily, when it doesn’t is when standing up for principle might cost them red-neck votes.

Of course, this distasteful behaviour is not just evidenced by Republicans, and nor is it limited to the United States. It is just more obviously demonstrated by the bulk of the buffoons that the “Grand Old Party” – to their shame – currently have standing for the Presidency.

Whilst I don’t think Ron Paul has a snowball in hell’s chance of winning the Republican nomination, (and nor should he, as his economic ideas are delightfully lunatic), his confronting and ruthlessly honest candidacy is the most refreshing thing to happen to American politics in years. And yes, that includes the election of Obama.

Those standing against him should consider what comes next in Matthew’s gospel.

“Enter through the narrow gate;for the gate is wide and the road is broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many.

How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.”

I think Ron Paul found the narrow gate last night. And they hated him for it.

(New American and others)