The Golden Rule is such a simple thing: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It is also stated as: Don’t do unto others as you wouldn’t have them do unto you. These might sound like the same thing, just that one is stated positively and the other in the negative. But, unpacking them a bit and it is easy to see that the first version could be simply stated as “Do Good,” and the second, “Don’t Do Harm.”
Doing good and not doing harm are not exactly the same thing. So, these two versions of the Golden Rule pretty much have all the bases covered. The Golden Rule takes it one step further by saying, as you would have them do unto you (or not). This is the part that is troublesome because we all know that people sometimes do harm to themselves. Even when Jesus says to love your neighbor as yourself, he is assuming that people love themselves and if they loved others as much as they loved themselves, everything would be okay. But, we don’t always love ourselves and we sometime choose to harm ourselves. Sometimes the harm is big and obvious, other times it is less so, like in the ways we consume so much.
If we hadn’t been taught the Golden Rule we probably, each of us, would have figured it out when we were kids, because children are smart that way. We all know that loving ourselves is a first step to healthy living, not a last step or after thought. God loves us because we are worthy of God’s love and therefore we are worthy of our own love. Airlines tell us of the wisdom of putting the oxygen mask on ourselves before trying to help others. The Golden Rule and the commandment of Jesus includes the understanding that loving ourselves is a good thing. Compassion is about extending that love to others: other people, other creatures, other parts of God’s creation. To do good, to not do harm, and to love our enemies starts with loving ourselves. This mean you.