…and to treat others as I want to be treated.

IMGP6820Trail Life USA has an oath for its members to take:

On my honor, I will do my best
To serve God and my country;
To respect authority;
To be a good steward of creation;
And to treat others as I want to be treated.

In past discussions we’ve examined various segments of the oath statement.  Tonight, I’d like our Trailmen to discuss what they think it means to “treat others as I want to be treated

All around the world and in almost all major religions, there is some form of what is commonly called “the golden rule” — treating other people at least as well as we’d like to be treated.  It is a form of hospitality shown toward complete strangers, and a nod to the fact that we share a common biological identity — brothers in DNA (if not also by a single, shared creator).

Spring Summer 2013 154In the simplest form, and based on prior discussion of the oath, this clause suggests that we will treat other people with respect, kindness, and a fair hearing (to better understand their needs, position, concerns).

The “golden rule” concept works effectively in society for several reasons — even cynical, selfish people who agree to follow the rule will have to help others or treat them at least as well as they’d like to be treated.  Of course, people who are unreasonable, unbalanced or self-deceived might not follow through on the promise.  Ideally, we would recognize and respond to the various directives of our faith and hold those behaviors as our minimum acceptable behavior — not just behaving as we’d like to be treated.

There is ample reference to this concept in the Bible.  Consider the following verses:

  • Leviticus 19:18 – Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I [am] the LORD.
  • Matthew 7:12 – Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.
  • Mark 12:31 – And the second [is] like, [namely] this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.
  • Luke 6:31 – And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.
  • John 15:13 – Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
  • Romans 13:8-10 – Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
  • Galatians 5:14 – For all the law is fulfilled in one word, [even] in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
  • James 2:8 – If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:
  • 1 Peter 3:9 – Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.
  • Hebrews 13:1 – Let brotherly love continue. 

021_18Matthew 5:43-48 lays down a larger challenge for Christians; “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

So we can certainly begin with “treating others as we’d like to be treated;” however, I think we ought to learn to be ready to go further in our love and concern for other people — even when they’re not nice to us or fail to apply the golden rule towards us.

Post-Modern Criticism of the Golden Rule in Light of Social Conformity

Critics of the “golden rule” have called for a post-modern, social conformist “platinum rule” — treating other people at least as well as they would like to be treated.  This means that anyone we come into contact with should be treated as they’d like (but they may or may not have similar regard for our desires in practice).  For instance, under this rule I should accept a social activist’s sinful, libertine disrespect of God as acceptable since they want me to accept their behavior without criticism.  If I fail to bless them, I’m a bigot, but they are not (the platinum rule is only concerned with their feelings and beliefs, not anyone else’s).

Put another way, critics of the “golden rule” would like to say “you should treat me the way I want to be treated, even if that presents a problem for you.”  Harsh?  Self-centered?  Perhaps, but becoming more common in today’s society.  Skeptical?  Check out this article on improving your leadership style by abandoning the golden rule in favor of the platinum rule — http://business.financialpost.com/2013/11/15/want-to-be-liked-as-a-leader-stop-treating-others-as-you-would-want-to-be-treated/  Written by a psychologist, it suggests that it is selfish to impose my beliefs and desires on someone else as a measuring stick for what is acceptable, but it’s OK for others to impose their beliefs on me — with the expectation that I’ll be supportive, accepting and supportive of their belief and practice.


So as Trailmen, we have already begun to explore various tenents of the Trailman Oath and Motto.  We need to incorporate these into our daily lives and use them to help set the bar in the application of this clause – “to treat others as we would want to be treated”. Critics may suggest that our “golden rule” is insufficient to satisfy their “platinum rule” expectations, but we can’t let our critics un-nerve our best efforts to “walk worthy”

adjusted trail


One thought on “…and to treat others as I want to be treated.

  1. Pingback: Trailman’s Oath | Trail Life Troop 113

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