Thursday, 24 July 2014

On Golden Rules

Western society is permeated, on some extent, by a latent christian mentality. Even though a small part of western population is really christian, in a strict sense, "we" all agree on a passage of Matthew's gospel:
Whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them.
- Matthew, 7:12
This fundamental principle is generally referred to as Jesus Christ's golden rule, and it is considered the basis of christian god's will. Interestingly, this idea is way older than the New Testament. A symmetric version of this sentence was indeed pronounced by Confucius more than 4 centuries before Jesus Christ:
What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.
- The Analects of Confucius, XVː24
It is worth noting that similar concepts were proposed hundreds of years before. For instance, an egyptian papyrus of the late period reads:
That which you hate to be done to you, do not do to another.
Thus, it seems that christianity is just a statement of a "common-sense" on which everybody was already agreeing since centuries.  Nevertheless, I think that Christ did mess up with the proposition, leading to a deformed meaning of the principle which lead to proselytism and abuses.

Christianity assumes that something that is good to me is NECESSARILY good for everyone else, but this is far from true. We are all different, hence the assumption that we all want the same things from others is both naïve and a bit arrogant. The christian god wants us to overcome the personal space of the people surrounding us, in order to force the delivery of our "good" intentions. Naturally, there is here a second implicit assumption that what is "good" for christians must be good in any other culture or society, in any time and situation. Naturally, it is wrong.

On the contrary, the rest of golden rules (e.g., confucianism) respects the coexistence and promotes diversity (behavioral and cultural) by not doing anything that may cause frictions or arguments and, in particular, by avoiding any action that may cause suffering to me in the first place, because it is likely that it will make the others suffer too.

The paradigm shift is clear and consequences are straightforward: when a christian person feels that something is good for him, he will try to make the others feel the same. This misplaced urge, which completely ignores individual needs, generates absurd debates about mutual respect and morality. Moreover, christians have weird expectations from humanity, which is supposed to behave with a strict christian perspective (e.g., doing christian good actions) because of a wrong (or malicious) re-statement of a millenary concept produced by their fundamental prophet.