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Treat others as you wish to be treated | Worship

 

Glen Pickus

There are no exceptions to the Golden Rule.

“Love your neighbor as yourself.” These five words leave no room for interpretation.

The Golden Rule provides the ethical basis for all three Abrahamic religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – although it probably occurs in some form in just about every religion.

While each religion may state the rule with different words, the intent of the rule is always identical and unambiguous.

It is a moral commitment we have as individuals to the well-being of other individuals with no expectation of anything in return. And with no exceptions.

What if that individual is very strange to us? Love them because that’s how you’d want to be treated if you were a stranger. And because there are no exceptions to the Golden Rule.

What if that other person scares me? You can be wary of them, but you still need to treat them with respect. That’s what you’d want if somebody thought you were a scary person. There is no Golden Rule exception for scary people.

Yet somehow there are religious people, believers in the Golden Rule, who think it’s appropriate to discriminate against members of the lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender-queer community.

And others would deny Muslims the freedom to practice their religion (a freedom they vigorously protect for themselves as a fundamental right) because those Muslims might be radicals plotting an act of violence which makes them scary.

Rabbi Akiva, one of Judaism’s greatest sages, tells us that each and every human being is beloved by God because we are — all of us, without exception — created in the image of God.

In other words, you don’t need to earn God’s love; it is given to you with your existence, the gift of a loving God.

Since all of us, despite the infinite variety we display, are created in the image of God and loved by God, we deserve to be treated the same.

What better standard of treatment should we apply than how we’d want to be treated?

Hence, the Golden Rule.

The ancient prophets of Israel foretold of a day when violence and desolation on Earth would no longer exist, when everybody could live in security and live without fear. If everybody practiced the Golden Rule, that day would be today.

God loves us; all of us. This message lies at the heart of Jewish theology and is not the exclusive domain of any single religion.

To be a religious person is to strive to love the people God loves – which means, ultimately, to try to love everyone.

And the best way to do that is to adhere to the Golden Rule.

I follow the Golden Rule because it’s my obligation to make this a compassionate world where everybody is treated with dignity and loved for who they are.

Even if I don’t understand someone else’s sexual orientation or gender identity, which is not the same as my own.

Even if I find myself making negative assumptions about others who scares me, all without truly knowing them.

I urge all of us to practice the Golden Rule as-is, with no exceptions.

Glen Pickus is a member of Temple Beth Or, the Jewish synagogue serving Snohomish County. The synagogoe is at 3215 Lombard Ave. For more information, visit http://www.templebethor.org.

 

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