Thursday, September 11, 2008

Googling the Rule

McDowell News
Christians long ago called that idea "The Golden Rule." Jesus Himself put it succinctly when He said, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." The idea is that if you think it's wrong for people to try to kill you because they fear something you might someday take a notion to do, then it is also wrong for you to go on a paranoid killing spree against them.

Seems kind of basic, but the idea is entirely outdated.
Read the rest...

The Daily Dispatch
Later, Obama told Newsweek “It is a precept of my Christian faith that my redemption comes through Christ, but I am also a big believer in the Golden Rule, which I think is an essential pillar not only of my faith but of my values and my ideals and my experience here on Earth.
Read the rest...

The Baptist Standard
However, their views seemed to change when asked to consider torture policy in light of the Golden Rule. When respondents were asked if the United States should “never use methods against our enemies that we would not want used on American soldiers,” more than half agreed.
Read the rest...

Media Monitors Network
A morality predicated upon spiritual realities has at its center the ethic of reciprocity, perhaps most helpfully articulated for Western audiences by Jesus himself who said, according to some records, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” and according to others, “You must not forget the great law of human fairness which I have taught you in positive form: Whatsoever you would that men should do to you, do even so to them.”
Read the rest...

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Politics, the Ten Commandments and the One Rule

In a discussion on a political forum with some folks who could be regarded as moderately theocratic if not borderline Dominionist a poster named Inibo mentioned his admiration for Chuck Baldwin, but his misgivings about the Constitution Party itself. Part of their platform reads:

The Constitution Party gratefully acknowledges the blessing of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as Creator, Preserver and Ruler of the Universe and of these United States. We hereby appeal to Him for mercy, aid, comfort, guidance and the protection of His Providence as we work to restore and preserve these United States.

This great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Inibo remarked that for those of us who are not Christians, and for some who are, that is some scary stuff.

A fellow named WRellim replied:

Go read some history then... it is not altogether that different from the various speeches and writings of a number of "classic" American political figures (including many of the founding fathers).

Inibo said he had no problem with people who believe that Jesus is King of America, he used to believe it himself. His problem is with people who want to enshrine it in law. The Constitution Party is flirting with Dominion Theology. Judged by R.J. Rushdoony's standards Inibo said he would be regarded as a heretic at best, more than likely an apostate, and his spiritual practice would be classified as sorcery or witchcraft. He said to excuse him if he's a little reluctant to lend his support to an ideology that says he should be put to death for something that is none of anyone's business but his own.

Someone named Peace&Freedom joined in:

Actually, Christian/biblical doctrines WERE enshrined in early American law, in the early treaties and several state constitutions. Somehow the galaxies didn't explode, and liberty flourished. The founders (except for Paine) were probably closer to the Dominionism you speak of than the draconian secular theocracy being pushed nowadays. How is the modern high holy doctrine of mass abortion, that legalized child-killing is all hunky-dory, an improvement over extreme opposition to sorcery?

Yes, it's true Jefferson supported a law in 1786 calling for the castration of male homosexuals, but that's about as bad as it ever got. Biblically based government is not incompatible with liberty, in fact it is structurally the foundation for the liberty concepts founding America and the English common law. It is the current authoritarian version peddled by the Huckabees et al that is the problem. The assertion of man-based tyranny merely CLOAKED in Christian or secular garb leads to disaster, whether humanist or God-based in rhetoric.

A bit of potent reality from UnReconstructed cut right to the core for probably more people than anyone cares to realize:

Why even have a party? I'm not a Democrat or a Republican or a Libertarian or a Constitutionite (don't know what they call themselves). I'm just me... a pissed off Southern White Male that wants to be left the hell alone.

None of these groups represent me fully so I subscribe to none of them.

That was curiously refreshing.

Inibo said he had problems with both the CP and the LP (not to mention the Democrats or a Republicans).

He said his partners in this conversation seem to have set up a false dichotomy were the only alternatives are either abortion-on-demand or "extreme opposition to sorcery." How about neither?

He asks straight out: should consensual homosexual behavior, non-violent witchcraft and recreational drug use be considered crimes under civil law?

WRellim replied:

Actually, the dichotomy you are citing is set up by the parties, not by me.

Inibo pointed it was Peace&Freedom who asked "How is the modern high holy doctrine of mass abortion, that legalized child-killing is all hunky-dory, an improvement over extreme opposition to sorcery?" He said whether intentional or not that certainly seems to imply that the only way to be safe from one is to allow the other and WRellim seemed to be in agreement with him--at least generally speaking.

And I think you are the one constructing fabricated extreme scenarios... but for the sake of debate, I will play along.

Civil law at what level, Federal, State, or Local?

Inibo said any level. At what level does government have a right to interfere in non-violent consensual behavior?

Inibo said that he subscribed to the Zero Aggression Principle and the Philosophy of Liberty.

Next Inibo gave an exposition on the libertarian nature of the Ten Commandments:

In that respect I do accept Biblical principles in that those of the (Protestant) Ten Commandments which apply to relations between people--6, 8 and 9 (violence, theft and fraud)--are crimes against life, liberty and property and should be either punished or recompensed. These things are crimes, not because the Bible tells me so, but because they violate individual sovereignty. Had the Bible never been written they would still be crimes.

The others which are not specifically Godward--5, 7 and 10 (filial and maternal piety, adultery and envy)--are simply a good way to live and conducive to a harmonious life. Violating them brings their own punishment in the form of misery and discord. Again, had the Bible never been written this would still be true. In that respect they are spiritual failings, but not crimes--though it could be argued adultery has to do with fraud if it involves deception or the violation of a voluntary contract.

1, 2, 3 and 4 (Faithfulness, idolatry, blasphemy and ritual observance) are matters of one's understanding of and relation to deity and consequently the concern of the individual and deity and nobody else's business, especially not the business of someone who has a different opinion of what they comprise.

I do not discount the Bible, I just do not regard it in accordance with the Five Fundamentals.

For the reader who has gotten thus far Inibo's Ten Commandments are the point of this post. Can they be stripped of their obvious cultural and religious context and stand alone as a monument to libertarian ideals in and of themselves? More particularly do they convey the same core ethos of the One Rule?

Monday, September 8, 2008

The One Rule

Most everyone who speaks a European language natively is familiar with the Golden Rule, attributed to Jesus Christ: Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.1 This is usually simplified to Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Even more concisely as Love your neighbor as yourself.2

Many do not know that the basic idea, what has been called the Ethic of Reciprocity, is actually not unique to nominally Christian societies., a non-sectarian educational web site catalogs twenty one separate expressions of this idea from many religions and philosophical schools from as early to as the fifth century BCE.

Many of these expressions articulate a positive formulation. One is enjoined, or even compelled to take active steps toward others. Some of the criticisms, such as George Bernard Shaw's Do not do unto others as you would expect they should do unto you. Their tastes may not be the same and Karl Popper's The golden rule is a good standard which is further improved by doing unto others, wherever possible, as they want to be done by are rooted in just this positive viewpoint. It has its worst expression in busybodies and the fabled Nanny State.

The rule is not always stated positively. Some ancient Greek philosophers spoke not of doing good things to others, but of not doing bad things.

Do not to your neighbor what you would take ill from him. Pittacus

Avoid doing what you would blame others for doing. Thales

Do not do to others what would anger you if done to you by others. Isocrates

The distinction may be subtle, but it is critical. What I perceive as my good and what you perceive as good for me might not coincide. What would be hurtful if done to you is something I'd likly want to avoid having done to me as well. The boundaries defined by not doing leave room for the positive expressions of good to develop. Good fences make good neighbors.

Among the many forms this rule takes the Jewish sage, Hillel, put it succinctly:

What is hateful to you, do not to your neighbor.3

I'm neither Christian nor Jew, but I find interesting to note that both Jesus and Hillel say that the entire will of God for the faithful is contained in this rule. Hillel said That is the whole Torah, while the rest is the commentary thereof; go and learn it. Jesus said For this is the law and the prophets and in another place This do, and thou shalt live.

How would it be to use this lens of reciprocity in how you acted and how you viewed the world? How would you see your daily interactions with family, friends and coworkers? How would you view the news from the robbery of a convenience store to the wars that never seem to end?

I will be posting stories and thoughts on how this rule, The One Rule applies to life. I welcome any thoughts or comments from those who read this.

1. Matthew 7:12.
2. Luke 10:27.
3. Shabbath 31a, Babylonian Talmud.