April 10, 2006
Do unto others…unto others? Is it a poem? Shakespeare?
I shudder with a mixture of dread and curiosity every time Jay takes to the street with his camera crew and a microphone in hand. In a regular feature Jaywalking, Leno approaches people on a Hollywood street to survey their knowledge on current news or a particular topic.
One night it’s history. Leno asks passersby how many judges there are on the Supreme Court. A young man laughs, shrugs his shoulders and tosses a number in the air. Thirty six? Leno laughs, too. So, he asks, did you go to college? Yeah, the man replies. I graduated last year.
The Golden Rule? It’s a mathematical formula, isn’t it?
In a variation on his regular theme, Leno one night lets people choose their questions from either a 4th, 6th, or 8th grade text. Jen, a registered dental assistant, says the Grand Canyon is 3200 miles long, and an Alabama State student says Columbus discovered America in 1842. What country did we fight in the Revolutionary War, Jay asks Selena. Oh, my gosh. I don’t know this stuff, she admits. I really don’t know this stuff. Keeping a straight face, Leno tells her, I believe you.
Another night, and another question…laughter gives way to sadness as we witness the current state of affairs in modern American life. What is the Golden Rule, Jay asks. One after another, each person stares at him with a blank face. You know, he persists. The Golden Rule…do unto others…? That’s enough to get them started.
The Golden Rule? Do unto others…before they do it to you. Yeah, that’s it.
The ethic of reciprocity is a general moral principle found in virtually all religions, often as a fundamental rule. It is most commonly heard as “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” This traditional rule is so highly valued that it has been known in English for centuries as the “Golden Rule”.
How did we manage in America to loose sight of the Golden Rule? Why is it impossible for these regular people to immediately recite the simple statement for Jay? How can we possibly teach our children new attitudes of respect and love when we have lost sight of a common cultural law as basic 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. [Mat 7:12 NIV] A nation that does not have this law written on its heart is a nation that has forgotten how to love.
As I would have them do unto me? Would I have them yell at me and trash me with vulgarity and accusations on Jerry Springer’s show? Certainly not.
Would I have a dear family member meet me center stage on a national television talk show to reveal a devastating “secret,” entertaining the world at the expense of my humiliation? Of course, I wouldn’t.
What part of letting my friends get drunk on Spring Break is a measure of my love for them? Not one bit of it.
Restoring a healthy expression of love to our nation is as simple as remembering one rule, golden in value:
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” [Mat 22:36-40 NIV]
As we take up the great commandment and make it the watchword for our life, it is exceedingly clear how much of modern life encourages us to focus on what is good for ourselves regardless of how it impacts others.
The Golden Rule is the narrow path. It is the touchstone, the measuring stick, the weight and measure for all we say, do and think. It is not merely a “good idea.” It is the law. It is a commandment. It is the sight we must fix our eyes upon, the bandage for our spirit, and the balm for a hurting world.
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
New International Version (NIV), Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.
November 12, 2004 – Old as the Hills
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