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Beyond the Golden Rule

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

The Golden Rule has long been recognized as the core principle behind our moral values. Just about every culture and religion recognizes some variation of this rule.
A number of respondents to the Chivalry-Now surveys included the Golden Rule when asked to define chivalry—and for good reason. The two are surely related, but they are different as well, at least in our approach to them.
Chivalry takes the Golden Rule not as a goal but as a starting point, by asking questions that are implicit in the words themselves:

  • How do I want people to treat me, so I know how to treat others?
  • How do I use this knowledge to help better the world?
  • Do my actions fulfill my side of the equation? Or do I expect people to treat me better than I treat them?

Such questions lead us to the profound meaning of the Golden Rule, which is only a step away from the maxim itself:
In a world starving for inspiration, would humanity be better served if we treated people better than we demanded in return?
For example: Would we improve gender relations by being more than just cooperative partners, bartering for measured favors? Could we put our lives on the line for causes that don't benefit us directly, but serve a higher good? Since none of us like to be victims of gossip, is it possible to reject gossip altogether, rather than tacitly accepting it? Can we be generous to the poor without thought of reward? Can we be unselfish and courteous at all times, even when others are not?
In these questions of conscience, and others like them, we find the germination of a higher moral instinct, searching for truth. Legends of chivalry point this out. In Arthurian romances, Sir Perceval met the requirements of that great, existential mystery we call the Holy Grail not by strength of arms or powerful deeds, but by asking the right questions.
The Golden Rule then becomes a stepping stone or catalyst for pursuing higher moral truth. It surpasses the dynamic of reciprocity implicit in its message and replaces it with a sense of deep moral duty. The Quest that follows becomes a gauntlet through which our personal qualities are developed, tested and refined.
From this comes the realization that Chivalry-Now is not just a code. It is a conscious, self-disciplined approach to leading a full, moral life that expresses who we are.


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