The golden rule that I’ve been taught my entire life is to do onto others as I would have them do onto me. Jesus said it and most religions have some sort of similar proverb or guideline.
I’ve recently begun to wonder if this is the best advice.
Considering my privilege – the way that I would want to be treated, my expectation for how someone engages me, the way I enjoy conflict, the power I feel when someone confronts me – and knowing what I know about many other folks, this kind of advice I certainly used to be more aggressive rather than compassionate.
Because I like to be confronted, called out and challenged, in front of others or not, I have tended to do the same to others, and hide behind this golden rule to justify the way I have made them feel. The golden rule allows me to only consider my life, my feelings, my experiences when interacting with the rest of the world. The golden rule doesn’t demand that I do the hard work of seeing how someone else is experiencing something. Think about all the debates surrounding gender pronouns. If we follow the golden rule, and I’m fine being called by my socially inherited pronoun, then I can hide behind this rule and call people whatever is socially accepted. The more privilege you have, the less prone to offense you will have, the more likely you are to expect everyone else around you to be more like you.
I’m wondering, for us folks immersed in privilege, if we should change the golden rule. Maybe it should be do onto others as they wish you would do onto them. Call them what they want to be called. Treat them like they ask us to treat them. Show love to them like they prefer, not how you would prefer.