The Golden Rule

During a Book World Live online conversation (1st October 2008), the science-fantasy novelist Terry Pratchett was asked about a “theme that seems to run through many of your novels,” which “is the conception that good is relative but evil is the absolute inability to care about other living things, be they golems, people, or cats.” 

The endearingly wise Terry replied: “All I am really promoting in the books is the Golden Rule, which I hope everybody knows to be “do as you would be done by.” It has one or 2 flaws, but it is a good soundbite. Evil starts when you treat other people as things. There are perhaps worse crimes, but they begin when you treat other people as things.”

Around 450 BC, the first versions of what we know today as the Analects of Confucius began to be put together somewhere in modern-day China. In Chapter 12 (“Confucius: The Analects”, translated by Arthur Waley), we read what are probably the earliest recorded words pointing to the Golden Rule: “Do not do to others what you would not like yourself.” 

Towards the end of her Talk to the class of 1989 at Michigan Technological University, the 76 years old Rosa Parks, mother of the Civil Rights movement in the USA, draws on a lifetime of struggle for human rights, and gives each of us a message —

“we do need to go back to what we’ve always thought of as the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.””

Peace 😊

“is not all love….”

In a piece written (“A Slip of the Keyboard: Collected Non-fiction”) for someone who “wanted about 400-500 words ‘on fantasy'”, the wise humorist and writer of fantasy novels, Terry Pratchett begins with these lines:

“You want fantasy? Here’s one…There’s this species that lives on a planet a few miles above molten rock and a few miles below a vacuum that’d suck the air right out of them. They live in a brief geological period between ice ages, when giant asteroids have temporarily stopped smacking into the surface. As far as they can tell, there’s nowhere else in the universe where they could stay alive for ten seconds.
And what do they call their fragile little slice of space and time? They call it real life.”

If we truly comprehend that life (for each of us, and our species) rests on eggshells, the following lines from poets Elizabeth Alexander and W H Auden give us something to ponder over in our relationships with each other — with family, friends, indeed every person, animal, plant, rock, star and planet….

“is not all love, love, love….”

(“Ars Poetica #100: I Believe”published in Elizabeth’s collection titled “American Sublime”) 

“If equal affection cannot be, Let the more loving one be me.”

(“The More Loving One” from W H Auden’s collection titled “Homage to Clio”)

Peace 😊