The Golden Rule

By Samia Khoury
Thursday, November 14, 2002

One of the most interesting sessions of the strategic planning we were having at Rawdat El-Zuhur this past month was on the vision for the organization. We were allowed to dream in the process. And we certainly had big dreams. They did not cost anything, they did not infringe on the rights of anybody, and it was a good feeling to envisage new premises and better facilities for the school.

As I sat at home reflecting on such a fruitful day, I could not help but think of a visioning session for the world. Who would be the right people to come up with a vision for the world? Will this privilege be granted to the politicians and the world leaders, or will it involve teachers, social workers, business people, researchers, professionals, and religious leaders? Would we as women have a role in such a process? And how much of our dreams would be feasible?

But then I thought how lovely it would be if we could get the children to dream about the future of the world. After all it is their own future, and all through the ages, in any conflicts or disasters, children have always suffered the most. Despite the diversity in their backgrounds, children are children. They want to live in freedom, peace and security. They want a safe and warm shelter which they can call home. They want to play and to have fun and to go to school every morning without being harrassed by checkpoints or petrified by snipers. And above all they want to be treated with respect and love. They want to feel that someone really cares and listens to their concerns and needs with compassion.

I can just envisage those children dreaming about a new planet with no wars, no arms and no mines in the fields. A planet void of hunger, poverty, disease and violence, and with plenty of water and other resources. A planet with a clean environment, and naturally grown fruits and vegetables. A planet where people can move from one place to another without any restrictions, irrespective of their race, gender, or religion, and where a home is where one chooses to settle down. A planet where children have the opportunity to express themselves freely, and to go to school where the learning process is just as much fun as playing a game, and where music and dancing are a common language for communication.

Are those children asking for a utopia? I do not think so. In some countries many of those dreams are already realized, but unfortunately it is the ruling powers in different countries that strangle children’s dreams. That is why it is the greed for power and money that needs to be challenged in order to make this world a better place for all.

There are so many devastating natural disasters that we need to exert our energy and effort to control human-made disasters. Truly we have no control over earthquakes, hurricanes, floods or droughts, but we certainly can have control over waging a war or depleting a natural reserve or demolishing a historical site, or dumping waste and polluting the environment. Again it is the ruling powers which allow vested interests to contribute towards these human-made disasters.

The root cause of so many grievances and disastrous situations is injustice. If there was Justice, there wouldn’t be wars and the loss of life. If there was a fair distribution of resources, there wouldn’t be so many poor and homeless people. If there were equal opportunities, there wouldn’t be so much unemployment and so many illiterate people. If there was freedom and democracy, there wouldn’t be oppressed nations and so many refugees and political prisoners.

In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus Christ expresses the essence of Justice in what has become known as the Golden Rule: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12). This Rule seems to be a very logical guideline for the ultimate solution for this turmoiled world, since it is an ethic of reciprocity in the scriptures of almost every religion.

Judaism: “What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow men. That is the entire Law; all the rest is commentary.” (The Talmud)

Islam: “No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself.” (Hadith)

Buddhism: “Hurt not others with that which pains yourself.”


Hinduism: “This is the sum of duty: do naught to other which if done to thee would cause thee pain.” (The Mahabharata)

Zoroastrianism: “Whatever is disagreeable to yourself do not do unto others.” (Shayast-na-Shayast 13:29)

Baha’i: “And if thine eyes be turned towards justice, choose thou for thy neighbour that which though choosest for thyself.” (Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, 30)

With such a common principle of ethics it would be very appropriate — not only for the children, but for the world leaders — to use the Golden Rule as the slogan of their vision for the world. There is nothing more hurtful to the soul and dignity of a child, an adult or even a whole nation than the feeling of injustice. A simple injustice in a distribution of sweets among the siblings of one family can bring a big headache to the mother. Different grades for the same performance in a class can cause the teacher to lose her credibility. An extra bonus to one employee and not to the other for equal work and equal hours can end up with the employer in the court. But what is the mechanism to redress an injustice that falls upon a whole nation? For many years, and before the United Nations was established, fighting a war was the only mechanism availabe. Yet in many cases wars exacerbated the injustice.

In the case of Palestine, the war of 1948 that erupted as a result of the unjust partitioning of Palestine, ended up with the Palestinians losing more land to the Jewish state than was originally allocated for that state. And with the war of 1967 the rest of Palestine — the West Bank which includes East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip — fell under Israeli occupation. The injustice continues in spite of international law which prohibits the acquisition of land by force, and despite the United Nations resolutions 242 and 338 calling on Israel to withdraw from the Occupied Territories.

How ironic it was to hear Mr. Bush at the United Nations on September 12th emphasizing the role of the Security Council. “We created the United Nations Security Council so that, unlike the League of Nations, our deliberations would be more than talk, our resolutions would be more than wishes.” Then he goes on to pose the question, “Will the United Nations serve the purpose of its founding, or will it be irrelevant?” He should not have made the mistake of asking this question because in fact it is the U.S. administration that has made the United Nations irrelevant. It has hijacked its role; its has vetoed its resolutions; its deliberations have not been more than talk, and its resolutions remain empty wishes. Maybe it will help for Mr. Bush to remember the Golden Rule, which in simple language means that whatever is good for the administration, even as a superpower, should be good enough for the rest of the world.


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