Do Unto Others. . .


{This poster was on the wall in our Street Chaplaincy drop-in center}


Let’s call it “DUO” (D.U.O.)

Do Unto Others.

Master Kung (Confucius) said it 500 years before Jesus.

Doesn’t matter.

It’s about DOING, about Ethics (NOT who gets the credit, for gawdsake).

Like all meaningful rules, guidelines, “spiritual lessons” or principles I think this is “simply” a REMINDER of behavior we KNOW is “good and right.”  Doesn’t take faith to know that (in fact, I think faith can get in the way of the simplicity).

As I see it, there are at least two ways of understanding this ancient principle:

1)  You want to be treated well, so treat others well

2)  In your actions, be a model for others

(and some joke, let’s hope it’s a joke, that it also means “Do unto others BEFORE they do to you!”)

With the first one, I think of an incident when my daughter was 2 or 3 years old.  She was going around pinching us on the arms.  At first it was funny, but then became irritating.  So, as I think many parents have done for thousands of years, I pinched her back.  She didn’t like that of course.  “That’s how it feels.  Do you like how that feels?”  A simple lesson.  And a lesson I suppose we have to learn over and over in our lives.

But that’s still a little negative, almost a “I DON’T want you to do that to ME, so I won’t do it to YOU.”  Later, I helped to teach my daughter (and she learned naturally) that the more she helped others or gave nice things to others (even hugs and good words), it not only made HER feel good but then she appreciated the good things that people did for her.

That’s Reciprocity.  A give and take.  A balance of act for act, good for good.

With the second one, doing to or for another person shows them good actions, how you treat another.  Then they can see not only what you want for yourself, but what is “good” or ethical behavior.  It is modelling in the best sense.  It is intended to enlighten, to educate, to remind.  “You LIKE that to happen to YOU, so DO it to Others” or the flipside, which is similar to the first point, “You DON’T like that, so DON’T do it to Others.”

And sometimes this “little lesson” that can be so hard to practice, has to be, by its very nature, uncomfortable, even agitating.

We can illustrate this with a current, very controversial and divisive example (I’m not saying this would actually work very well, but might be worth a try in some places!)

Example of DUO Action. . .

The Supreme Court’s decision to allow “counseling” outside women’s health clinics has provided a wonderful opportunity to practice the Good News of the Gospel!  Yes, Seculars, Agnostics, Atheists and Freethinkers, YOU TOO can Live the Good News!

What IF all people (faith or no faith) who believe in freedom of human conscience and are strongly committed to PRO-LIFE (like health choice, early childhood education, feeding and housing hungry and homeless humans, marriage equality, anti-war, anti-death penalty. . .you get the picture:  PRO-LIFE). . .

What IF we stood at the doors of the Anti-choice Churches to “counsel” people going in to their worship services?

What would the “counseling” be?  

Well, maybe something like this:

“Please, don’t kill an innocent MIND!”

“Faith is a CHOICE.  You can make a different choice NOT to believe or have faith.”

“Look at our Large Signs and Photos of BRAINS, of People Using Those Brains, of Wise Thoughts and Science. . .of the Real Needs of Our Human Community.”

“Join with Us, Work with Us, to make our World better for all of us, not to force our intrusive beliefs on everyone else.”

“This is the meaning of DUO:  Do Unto Others. . .Together we are a DUO!”

Yes, this is edgy and a bit “in your face.”  But, when DUO is practiced in the way I’m suggesting, it’s not a violent thing.  Not an angry thing.  Simply an “educational moment” to model that ancient principle of reciprocity.  And, yes, it may serve to show the anti-choice crowd how it feels to be pinched, if you catch the connection.

This would be DUO (Do Unto Others) in action.

It’s a Working With Others for Good, rather than Working Against Others for Yourself (or your God).

DUO is the Way of Reason and Compassion. . .

A Dynamic DUO!

Sidenote:  Those who are SO concerned about little faithful fetuses (because it really IS about Babies Becoming Believers) need some gentle reminders of how their own God lovingly slaughters children from time to time:

Joshua 11:12: “[Joshua and his army] struck every person who was in it with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying them; there was no one left who breathed. And he burned Hazor with fire.”

First Samuel 15:3: “Thus says the LORD of hosts [to King Saul], ”Now go and strike Amalek and utterly destroy all that he has, and do not spare him; but put to death both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.”

Psalm 137:9:  “Blessed [Happy] shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.”

And my personal favorite (for all the Theological Gymnastics it takes to “explain the historical context”):

Matthew 2:16-18:  “When King Herod saw that he had been tricked by the Wise Men, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed ALL of the Children in and around Bethlehem under two years old. . . .”  Remember:  This was according to God’s Loving Plan.  It was the fulfillment of divine prophecy, “A voice was heard in Ramah. . .”  Remember, God Knows All and fully knew that “sending His only Son” into the world would cause the death of ALL the Infants and Toddlers in and around Bethlehem.  And of course, He Knew that the bloodshed was Only Beginning, from these innocent children to Jesus to the centuries of people killed In His Name.

Not a pretty story.  Religious History has not been a good example of DUO.  Maybe it’s time?



5 thoughts on “Do Unto Others. . .

  1. Ok, after thinking about it a little more, I think maybe I get it: you believe that pro-lifers just enjoy being jerks? That they get some kind of kick out of standing outside abortion clinics in sub zero weather? That they do this because they just enjoy tormenting women? And maybe if somebody pickets their churches, they will start to see the light? But no one is going to picket their churches because atheists are just too nice to to do something like that?

    I believe that part of the golden rule is giving others the benefit of the doubt, and believing the best of them, especially when you don’t know them. When it comes to pro-lifers whom you obviously disagree with, this would mean viewing them as misguided but well meaning people who genuinely care about children. Ascribing evil motives to those whom we disagree with isn’t really in accordance with the golden rule. But then, all of us who try to live by the golden rule end up being hypocrites, don’t we?

    1. You’re getting a little closer to the intent of the post. No, I actually don’t think most anti-choicers enjoy being jerks. I think they’re perhaps not aware that they are acting that way. I suppose you have a point, in your question, that maybe it’s true that atheists have been pretty nice by not protesting at church doors. I hadn’t thought of that. As for anti-choicers caring about children (any more than other family people like me) I don’t see it. I see their need to indoctrinate young minds in fear so they too will not value freedom of conscience and choice. If I saw “pro-lifers” out “counseling” against wars, against the death penalty and for housing and education for children, I might hold some respect. If you were seeking private medical attention and someone like me (a male even!) harassed you and made efforts to intimidate you from your free and private choice, how would you feel? This is one reason the post suggests that, at times, seculars may model “do unto others” even more sincerely than the self-righteous. Though I agree, hypocrites can be found on all sides of intense issues.

  2. In terms of Herod, yes, he did commit mass infanticide in a bid to kill Christ, but him, Mary and Joseph had fled to Egypt. Some Christians actually use that story to argue against the detention of refugees, arguing that Mary, Joseph and Jesus were refugees in Egypt.

    1. So, I guess one point of the story is that god got his baby out so he wouldn’t be killed along with the “unholy” babies? Hmm. Nice deity. Makes me wonder: what if Jesus had died for our sins right then, along with all the other babies of Bethlehem? Might have saved a lot of grief later?

      One thing I admire about some progressive thinking Christians is using biblical stories like these to act for justice with compassion. In fact, it may be this is all these ancient texts offer us any more.

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