Tag Archives: Golden Rule

Principles on Faith and Humanity

Version 2Ever since being confounded by contradictions in my childhood religion as well as finding disconnects between that religion and my instincts, I’ve searched for spiritual truth. Decades into that journey and still bereft of many definitive answers, I created Principles on Faith and Humanity as a marker on my journey.

With this journey far from complete (as far as I know), I invite you to challenge, question, explore or otherwise comment on my Principles on Faith and Humanity. What am I missing that you know or believe?

  1. God is in us. We are in God.
  2. Humanity comes in many colors and fabrics, each of us with our own strengths and elements of attraction. It is only when we weave gently together, though, that we create the most stunning of tapestries.
  3. If God wanted us to be identical, she would have made us that way. Our differences create our collective genius and must be explored.
  4. The Golden Rule, when well understood, is a core unifying principle across faiths and secularists.
  5. Everyone has a faith, even if that faith solely includes humankind and/or the known physical world.
  6. Competition of ideas enriches our individual spiritual journeys. Forced compliance destroys our search for truth.
  7. When our religion conflicts with our instincts and/or reason, finding the truth requires deep exploration.

A number of my beliefs are important drivers in this exploration. I welcome your challenge to these concepts as well (and leave them numbered to make commenting easier). Continue reading

Post-Nevada: Caught Between Political Hell No and I Don’t Know

Long troubled by the disproportionate primary process control of party extremists, I’m struggling to find a presidential candidate who offers me refuge from political homelessness.

With my political philosophy defined by non-traditional concepts of following Golden Rule principles and building unity – ideas that cross party lines – it’s not easy to find candidates I fully support. This year is no exception.

Republican leader Donald Trump routinely displays a full-force middle finger to anyone opposing him, emulating the contempt that President Obama has routinely displayed to his critics by not even pretending that different ideas could contain elements of merit. Perhaps Trump’s unflinching bravado explains his popularity among elements of the Republican electorate eager for payback, but he likely won’t build unity and he hasn’t even come close to sidling up to critical Golden Rule concepts.

Democrats are torn almost equally between a woman chosen by less than 10 percent of those Democratic voters who think honesty matters and a man committed to a Santa-like flow of government gifts. It seems Bernie Sanders would conscript more than half the nation into lifelong servitude that crosses the line between our Golden Rule duty to provide helping hands to those in need over to forcibly requiring the majority to porter around people who are both capable of walking on their own and likely to build better lives if left to paths with fewer bureaucratic obstacles.

Once I wake from the concept of changing my legal name to Hell No and running a November write-in campaign, I’m faced with the realistic dilemma of having to choose among less-than-desirable alternatives. Nevada caucus results only elevate my nightmare scenario prospects.

So what primary should I vote in when given a chance in mid-March? Who deserves help at least making it to November?

Each of us has our own priorities, but three fundamental reforms seem essential to the nation’s ability to survive long past our current 240 years (which also happens to be the average existence of empires before implosion or invasion). Continue reading

Does Russia’s Re-Expansion Threaten Global Peace

A critical aspect of Golden Rule government is acquiring knowledge and imagining ourselves in the situation of others. With the news today that a Russian General has walked into the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad to request/tell the U.S. to pull its soldiers away from Syria, I’ve started to imagine what Russian President Vladimir Putin might be planning. Following are some of the questions I’m pondering:

  1. Now that we’ve been asked/told by Russia to withdraw our troops from Syria, how long will it be before an American soldier is accidentally killed by a Russia bomb?
  2. In the likely case we pull our troops back further after that American death, how long will it then be before a full Russian military base is built in Syria?
  3. What American interests will be put at risk by that vastly expanded Mediterranean base?
  4. What part of Russia’s re-expansion strategy benefits from Russia’s rapidly strengthening Syria-Iran alliance?
  5. Once Russia begins to fight ISIS in and around Syria while also taking out the handful (actually) of soldiers allied with the U.S. in Syria, do we fully turn over the fight against ISIS to Russia?
  6. Do we have any reason to trust that Russia would only fight ISIS, given Putin’s willingness to invade relatively defenseless nations and know the international community will let him bully his way into control?
  7. Which one of the ‘stans, or will it be Armenia, will the international community have a harder time reaching to stop Russia’s taking of control the next time Putin senses that the U.S. President is politically weak? (My money is on oil-rich Kazakhstan, but there are other candidates).

It’s easy to say let’s clear out from the Middle East and let Russia fight ISIS. But we can be certain that Putin isn’t moving just a single chess piece. In Doing Unto Others, set in the 2040s, Russia has full control of some former Soviet Union nations beyond those he has already taken. Putin may be on the path to greater control sooner than I suspected.

Is Pope Francis Right on Golden Rule Government?

Pope Francis argued today for Golden Rule government, a concept investigated, advocated and tested in the philosophical thriller Doing Unto Others: The Golden Rule Revolution, which I released earlier this summer.

In his address to Congress today, Pope Francis argued for the Golden Rule as the correct moral principle against which to create public policy, particularly focusing his remarks on its application to refugees, immigration and protecting life.

We agree on the Golden Rule principle, though in some cases have different perspectives on the correct answers to Golden Rule consideration.

Some will argue that religious principles have no business in the public arena, particularly since the Pope quoted a version of the Golden Rule contained in the Bible’s Book of Matthew. For those unfamiliar with the Golden Rule, he could have just as easily quoted from the Quran, the Torah, or from the scriptures and teaching of Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism and dozens of other faiths. He could have pulled Golden Rule quotes from atheists, secular humanists, existentialists and others not tied to a formal religion. It is our most common and agreed principle; shared by nearly all, though far from as frequently followed.

Its implementation is not easy. Properly implementing Golden Rule government requires gaining knowledge of each issue and the implications of various solutions, including exploration of alternatives not yet considered. It requires imaging ourselves in the circumstances of others and how we would want to be treated. It requires, in my view, looking at the long-term effects of the actions we adopt, not simply at the immediate emotional reaction. It requires testing for consistency. Do you react the same way regardless of race, party, gender or other point of differentiation? It also requires, as Professor Harry Gensler points out in Ethics and the Golden Rule, that we act only in a manner we would deem acceptable if we were in any position.

So, for immigration and refugees, the questions to ask are not just the simple ones. Continue reading

Creating Golden Rule Social Services

“Each individual has different needs, different capabilities, different dreams. What I see in government programs is an effort to fit people into boxes, to make people easy to administer, rather than to provide resources we need to become our greatest selves.”

Tamika Jackson
Doing Unto Others; The Golden Rule Revolution

With more than 100 government welfare and life-improvement programs potentially available as sources of support, Americans most in need of assistance are often overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude and complexity of government support structures.

Every year, elected officials debate adding to or deleting from this over-mixed structure, providing never-ending fodder for the divisive hate game dominating politics today. During these debates, accusations quickly turn overwrought.

Hate the poor. Burn taxpayer money. Racist. Enabler. One percenter. Cultural rot. No accountability.

When it comes to social service programs, this debate misses a more critical issue.

Existing programs are bureaucracy centric, designed to remain within the purview of particular legislative committees or to ensure the legacy of a particular elected official. Each has its own application, funding requirements, auditing processes, staffing and timelines aimed more at fulfilling process requirements than at providing support. Many programs are established with set financial cliffs that force participants to lose nearly as much, and sometimes more, in support than they gain in income when they work additional hours or earn a raise, providing dramatic disincentives to career development.

People and their needs don’t fit neatly within congressional or state legislative jurisdictions. Continue reading

Is It Ever Okay to Offend an Entire Faith (Islam)?

Golden Rule behavior demands that we treat others as we would want to be treated given understanding of that individual’s circumstances.

Knowing that the Islamic faith prohibits depictions of its prophet Muhammad, is there ever an acceptable reason to produce and distribute cartoons about and including drawings of Muhammad?

Just after a $10,000 prize was handed out in Garland, Texas yesterday to the best caricature of Muhammad, two Muslim men attempted to shoot their way through the conference. Their assault began just moments after they were believed to have tweeted, “May Allah accept us as mujahideen” and stating their loyalty to the Islamic State. A police officer used his service pistol to kill the assault-rifle-armed attackers before they could inflict substantial harm.

In the immediate hours following the shooting, many media commentators questioned whether conference organizers had brought the attack on themselves. Given this reaction, is it ever acceptable to purposely offend? Following are seven questions worth considering in determining your answer:

  1. Was the offensive behavior—the caricature and condemnation of Muhammad—solely intended to offend, or was it pursued to achieve a higher purpose?
  1. If a higher purpose—or at least a serious purpose other than creating offense—was intended, could another method achieve that purpose without the offensive action?

Continue reading

Two Joints. 13 Years. Golden Rule?

Found with two marijuana joints in 2010, now 48-year-old truck driver and father of seven Bernard Noble wound his way through Louisiana’s judicial system until its Supreme Court increased his three-time-loser sentence to 13 years and four months of hard labor.

Noble already had several misdemeanor and two felony drug convictions on his record before the 2010 arrest. He was charged with a felony and originally sentenced to five years. Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro Jr. appealed, saying that Noble, “has a flagrant disregard for the law.” The Supreme Court ultimately sided with Cannizzaro and jacked up Noble’s sentence.

While much has been written about the case, a short, but relatively thorough article can be found here in a Gulf-focused publication. (Note: the number of Noble’s children is inaccurate in the attached article.) A number of court decisions and briefs are also available discussing the case.

Golden Rule questions to consider:

1) No one has claimed that Noble ever dealt drugs. Is a 13-year sentence consistent with the Golden Rule for personal-use behavior? His three-strikes sentence is based on felony convictions for cocaine possession in 1991 and 2003.

Continue reading

Golden Rule & Government Workshop

I spent an inspiring weekend in Champaign, Illinois leading a workshop on whether the Golden Rule should be applied to government and taking part in other sessions at Illinois Interfaith Conference 2015, as well as serving as a mentor for a University of Illinois leadership development program. I couldn’t be more encouraged by the quality of the students and inspired by fellow presenters and mentors. I only wish I could have spent more time at the Interfaith conference, and had more one-on-one time with many of the students, presenters and alums.

Special thanks to three students who helped me escape my deeply snowed-in parking space Sunday afternoon.

Understanding Islam and Charlie Hebdo

As I studied Islam over the past two years, trying to understand the dichotomy between my personal experience with peaceful, thoughtful Muslims and the brutal, hateful violence pursued by radical Islamist terrorists, I learned why silent acquiescence to radical Islam will not lead to peace. Much of what I now know is shocking to those who think of religious figures from a Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist or many other perspectives.

Here’s a few critical points worth contemplating as, through the attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris, we again live the violent tragedy imposed by those who believe we must live by their rules rather than the principles of freedom used in founding the United States:

  • Muhammad was a national ruler as well as a preacher. Most key religious figures, including Jesus Christ, did not attempt to rule an empire on earth. Christ and others guided followers to behaviors that would earn them a place in eternity. Muhammad sought to and did create a nation ruled by his views, and encouraged its continuous expansion.
  • Muhammad used violence to achieve his territorial objectives. Whether it was leading attacks on Mecca, approving the beheading of hundreds of Jews at Medina, or many other battles described in the Quran and Hadith, violence was part of the life of Muhammad. The Quran can be read as advocating violence or peace, depending on the desires of the interpreter.
  • Lying in the name of Islam is not a sin. Concepts known as taqiyya and kitman allow Muslims to lie to non-believers, particularly when lying advances the cause of Islam. It is even permissible in many branches of Islam for Muslims to deny their own belief in Muhammad and Allah to avoid persecution. Lie detectors track physical changes created when people engage in behavior they know to be wrong. Those changes won’t be found in those who believe their lying is not only acceptable, but encouraged.
  • Death is salvation. Many young Muslims are able to be convinced through interpretations of the Quran and Hadith that death in the name of Islam is a guaranteed pass to salvation. In The Great War for Civilization: The Conquest of the Middle East, author Robert Fisk details the exalted pride of children preparing to ride motorbikes through mine fields during the Iran-Iraq war when Shia Muslims in Iran battled the predominantly Sunni Muslims of Iraq. For many raised in radical Islam, attacks on infidels are a thrilling opportunity, not a source of fear. (As an aside, Shia, Sunni and other branches of Islam often see each other as infidels.)

There’s much more to explore to understand the world as it is, rather than the world as we might hope. I’ll leave you with a quote from murdered Charlie Hebdo editor in chief Stéphane Charbonnier: “I’d rather die standing than live on my knees.”

Trilogy Complete: Doing Unto Others

Interested in challenging your thinking while reading compelling stories of atonement, recovery, retribution and inspirational leadership? After decades of increasing division, America embraces a path toward unity behind the sole principle common to every major faith, as well as those who don’t believe in a higher power. “Doing Unto Others: The Golden Rule Revolution” is now available in paperback only on Amazon and Createspace, completing the trilogy I began writing three years ago. (A formal launch, with e-book version, is still two months away, but I needed to hit the publish button in order to obtain review copies.) This is the most important book in the trilogy and does not require reading the first two to contemplate and enjoy.

Front cover for Doing Unto Others: The Golden Rule Revolution
Front cover for Doing Unto Others: The Golden Rule Revolution