A Quiz on “The Golden Rule”

  The Proverbs 1:20 Column


 1021 words                                                                          – Mary A . LaClair

At the local coffee counter during a discussion about crime rates, I mentioned that I thought it was time to bring back the Golden Rule.

A sixty-plus-year-old man said he thought the golden rule promoted revenge!

Another man said he thought it was Scriptural and would soon probably be censored from society by the very groups who cry ‘censorship is evil’.

I’d like to see a street survey done on what people today think of the Golden Rule, and if they can repeat it from memory.

When I was in school, we had the Golden Rule imprinted on 12-inch rulers, which we used daily for drawing straight lines.  The Golden Rule is still needed daily for drawing straight lines in society.                  

The Golden Rule we learned as children still is: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”   NOT, do unto others as others do unto you as our coffee counter antagonist implied.

I checked an encyclopedia put out by Funk & Wagnall on Microsoft’s Encarta.  This is what it says:

  “GOLDEN RULE,  precept of altruistic behavior, that is, that people should do to others as they would have others do to them (see Altruism).  With the Ten Commandments, it serves as a proverbial guideline of conduct for Christians, Jews, and others.  It is derived in its modern form from Jewish and Christian sources.  The negative form of the rule was stated in Jewish literature, as in the Book of Tobit (4:15), in the Apocrypha:  “And what you hate, do not do to anyone.”  It was also stated negatively by Confucius and other teachers of ethics.

The Christian rule, which posits a fraternal ethic from the practical basis of personal realism, is taken from two New Testament passages, Matthew 7:12 and Luke 6:31¼.”

So, the Golden Rule does NOT originate with, nor is it limited to, Christianity.  It is an Altruism, is stated by Confucius and other early B.C. teachers of ethics, which included Judiaism and only later included in a positive form, rather than in the earlier negative form, in the teachings of Christianity.

I eventually DID do a street survey.  My findings were quite interesting!

The ‘art of discovery’ began one August at the Bouckville Antique Days. With pen and pad in hand, I spied out people of different ages and walks of life to do a little two question ‘survey’.  They need not answer and need not give their names.

Since it was a 65 year old man at the coffee counter who didn’t know what it was, and who got me started on this,  I started looking for that particular age group.

“Hi!  I’m doing a little survey, and I’d like to ask you two short questions”

“O.K., shoot !” was the frequent reply.

“Great, thanks!  The first question is,  Do you know what the Golden Rule is, and second, what is your age bracket, within five years more or less?”

The first couple I spied in that approximate age range were happy to comply. The wife said,  “Oh, it’s ‘love thy neighbor’.”   The husband affirmed, “Yep, love thy neighbor; and isn’t it also ‘Do unto others as they do to you’; or something like that?”

There it is!   Shades of our 65 year old lunch-counter man again, right off the bat. I questioned, “you mean you think it contains revenge?”  The wife, like a good little wife, soon rescued him and said, “No, of course not!”  Yet, I wonder how he would have answered.

The next couple, a tad younger gladly responded.  She got it right, ‘Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You.  The husband also got it right; however he said,  “Thou shalt not come to an antique fest without money!”   I’d say he got it right, too!

An older couple, at a young 71 and 77 years quoted it very well and stated clearly they had lived by it and had always done business by it.  “Our parents taught us well”, they said.

I found a 65 year old who gave his age first, and then said, “And, ugh, no I don’t know what it is.”…and walked quickly away.

Time to look for a younger age bracket in my survey on THE GOLDEN RULE.

Let’s see if these young teens selling ice cream know what it is.  They are between thirteen years and fifteen years of age.  I ask them in a group, and they all clamor to be the first one to spout if off!  AND they ALL get it right !  I’m proud of these youngsters!  Some say they learned it in church school, some say their parents taught it to them.  And they’re out working selling ice cream.  I think church school can teach our kids the right things.

From a forty year old I got a short  “Nope!”

From a sixty-eight year old I got an “I used to know!”

I seem to find a pattern that most 65 yr olds either did not know it correctly or did not know it at all.

I like what one couple in the 55-60 year range said.  “Oh, we have that framed and hanging in our hallway.  As Robert Hubbard, of Roycraft Furniture put it; “Do Unto Others As If You Were The Other”. “  I liked that one.

The husbands version was timely:  “Thou Shalt Not Buy Anything Unlest Thou Needest It!”     Well, I like THAT one, too!

The best answer of the day, came with my last interviewee.  And I will close with this one.  A brawny big man of 49 years, with sparkly eyes says, “’Do Unto Others As You Would Have Others Do Unto You!’” He went on to say,  “I think it is one of the greatest statements made, and if all people would use it, the world would be a more complete place.  I would even replace religion with it, as a commonality for all peoples.”

Y-E-S ! 

Let’s end with one of the best answers of the day.

As I leave, I hear the young ice cream salespeople say, “Hey, there’s the Golden Rule lady; we liked her survey, let’s give her an ice cream! “


Now THEY were practicing it!!