The dictionary of the Real Academia Española defines the term discrimination as “selection by exclusion”. To talk about discrimination is to talk about exclusion.
By Roberto Kohanoff and Isabel Lazzaroni
Another definition given by the Real Academia to the term discrimination is “treating a person or a community differently because of their race, religion, politics, sex…” Speaking of discrimination is also speaking of treatment that is given or received.
This is where the golden rule comes into play: treat others as you would like them to treat you…
And that’s when I ask myself the question: do I want to be treated differently? Do I want to be included?
Because if I don’t want to be treated like that, and more precisely, I don’t want to be mistreated, if I exclude others, if I discriminate against them, then I contradict myself. What I do does not correspond to what I think and feel. I don’t want to be bullied.
The golden rule is principle number 10 of the Valid Action Principles of Siloist Humanism. In the book The Inner Look this principle is expressed as follows: “If you treat others as you would like them to treat you, it will set you free”.
This principle is the only one Silo holds when he writes The Way, the last part of the book is Silo’s message where he says: “Learn to treat others as you would like to be treated”.
It seems worth emphasizing that the golden rule is not a principle exclusive to humanism. It is a “moral principle, widely disseminated among populations, revealing human nature”, as the Humanist Dictionary says.
There are other ways of expressing this principle, for example:
Rabbi Hillel, a Jewish teacher and scholar who lived in Jerusalem in the first century BC said: “What I do not want done to you, do not do to your neighbor”.
The wise Greek philosopher Plato said: “Let me do unto others as I would have them do unto me”.
Confucius, the Chinese thinker who lived in the 5th century BC coined this principle “Do not do unto others as you would not have them do unto you”
El Jainism, an Indian religion that dates back to the fifth century BC, uses the following saying: “Man should try to treat all creatures as he would like to be treated.
In Christianity, we say: “All things that you would have others do to you, do them also”.
Among the Sikhs, members of a religion between Hinduism and Islam born in the 15th century of our time, it is said: “Treat others as you would like them to treat you”.
So we see that the golden rule has existed since ancient times.
And this is a principle that perfectly corresponds to the vision of humanist siloists about man. If we speak against any kind of discrimination, if we speak about respect for diversity, if we speak about the right to choose the conditions of life that we desire for ourselves and others, then this morality , this ethical principle, resonates within us. .
As such, in this principle, there are two statements. On the one hand: the treatment that one person demands from another. On the other hand: the treatment that one person is willing to reserve for another.
To better understand this, I refer to the Manual of Formative Themes and Practices for Silo Messenger.
A. The treatment that one person demands of another
A common wish is to receive treatment without violence and to seek help to improve one’s life. It applies even to the most brutal and exploitative who seek the collaboration of others to maintain an unjust social order. The treatment demanded is independent of the treatment one is prepared to reserve for others.
B. The treatment one person is willing to give to another
By habit, we treat others the way we need them, just as we treat things, plants or animals. We are not talking about harsh treatment here because in the end the tools used are not destroyed. However, we tend to care for them whenever their conservation is rewarding or there is a present or future use. However, some “others” are quite disturbing: these are the so-called “loved ones”, whose suffering and joy touch us deeply. We recognize in them something of ourselves and tend to treat them the way we want to be treated. So there is a gap between the loved ones and the beings in which we do not recognize ourselves.
We always consider the “loved ones” and reserve our help and cooperation for them. This is also the case with strangers where we know something about ourselves, because the situation in which the other finds himself reminds us of our own situation, or because we anticipate the future situation where others can help us. In all these cases, these are just situations that do not apply to all “loved ones” or to all strangers.
D. Simple words are not always what they seem
We want to receive help, but why should we give it to others? Words like “unity” or “justice” are not enough; we use them against the backdrop of lies, we tell them without conviction. These are “tactical” words that are often used to promote cooperation with others, but without offering this cooperation to others. We can go further, with other tactical words like “love”, “kindness”, etc. Why can someone love someone who is not loved? It is opposite to say: “I like someone I don’t like”, and it is more to say: “I like someone I like”. On the other hand, the feelings that these words seem to represent are constantly changing and I find that I like this same beloved more or less. Finally, the feelings involved in this love are varied and complex; this is clearly seen in sentences like: “I like X, but I can’t stand that he doesn’t do what I want”.
E. Another view of applying the golden rule
If we say: “Love your neighbor as yourself for the love of God”, at least two difficulties arise. 1. It is believed that one can love God and admit that this “love” is human, so the sentence is incorrect; or else, we love God with a love that is not human, in which case the sentence is not enough either. 2. One cannot love one’s neighbor except indirectly, through the love of God. Double problem: starting with a word that does not represent God’s relationship well, we must translate it into human feelings.
From another point of view, people say things like: “We are fighting for class unity”, “we are fighting for unity with humanity”, “we are fighting against injustice to be freed To be human” . Here we continue to be unreasonable: why should we fight for unity or the liberation of others? If unity is a necessity, it is not a choice, then it does not matter whether I bring my unity or not, because it is not my choice. If not, if it is a choice, why do I have to make this choice?
Others say more unusual things, such as: “in the love of a neighbor, one flourishes”, or even: “the love of a neighbor lowers the attitudes of death”. What to say when the word “fulfillment” is not clear and the purpose is not presented? If the words “instinct” and “sublimation” are metaphors for a mechanistic psychology that is now clearly inadequate?
And others, more violently, preach: “You cannot act without the established justice so that we all protect each other”. In this case, no moral character beyond this “justice” can be demanded.
Finally, there are those who speak of a zoological natural morality, and others who define man as a “rational animal” and claim that morality comes from the operation of animal reason.
For all the above cases, the golden rule is not good. We cannot agree with them, even if they tell us that in other words, we are talking about the same thing. Clearly we are not talking about the same thing.
How did all the people feel that made the golden rule the best moral principle, at different times in history? This simple formula, from which to derive absolute morality, comes from the simple and sincere depths of man. Through this, we reveal ourselves to others. The golden rule does not impose behavior, it offers an ideal and a model to follow while allowing us to grow in knowledge in our own lives. Nor can the golden rule be another instrument of hypocritical moralizing, useful for measuring the behavior of others. If a “moral” table serves to restrain rather than help, to oppress rather than liberate, it must be broken. Above any moral table, beyond the values of “good” and “bad”, is man and his destiny, always unfinished and always growing.
In short, that’s what the manual says.
So let’s go back to this principle of treating others as you would like to be treated.
It just means that if you don’t want your property stolen, logically, you don’t steal from others. If you think you don’t need to be beaten, you can’t beat others. If you don’t want people to make fun of you, spread rumors or lies about you, you don’t make fun of others, you don’t start rumors and you don’t lie.
It’s like a rule of moral symmetry: I don’t want a criminal to kill me, so I understand that I don’t have the right to kill anyone either. It’s not that hard, is it? Understanding this requires very little mental effort. Even a politician can understand that.
Well, that’s the point. It is easy to understand, but the practical application we see is difficult. Because it’s about putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. Do not respond to violence with violence.
No one taught us how to do this. Not even at home. Not even at school. Not to mention the workplace where competition and bashing each other are always ground rules.
This is what we will do in this workshop. We’re going to do an experiment on how to treat others the way I want to be treated. And hopefully this experience will make us want to put the golden rule into practice every day.
Translation from Spanish: Frédérique Drouet