Do you like it when people are mean to you? Do you ever feel bad if you're left out of a game at recess? No one likes it when their feelings get hurt. But have you ever WONDERed whether your own actions make others feel the same way?
You may have learned from your parents that you should always treat others in the same way that you would like to be treated. That's called the Golden Rule.
It's also sometimes called the ethic of reciprocity. Reciprocity means acting in a way that's cooperative and benefits all who are involved.
The Golden Rule is sometimes stated in a negative way: don't treat others in a way that you would not like to be treated. Either way, the message is the same. If you want to be treated a certain way, then treat others that same way. If you don't want to be treated a certain way, then don't treat others that way.
For example, you and a friend are going to have pizza for dinner. Your mom bakes a delicious pizza and cuts it into eight equal slices. How should you divide the pizza?
If there are two of you, that means you should each get four slices. Of course, you can always choose to take five slices and leave three for your friend, if you're really hungry. But what about your friend? How would you feel if your friend did the same thing? If you'd like an equal amount of pizza, then the Golden Rule holds that you should only take half of the slices.
Really simple, right? If you think about it, though, it's obviously not as easy as it sounds. If everyone observed the Golden Rule, then there would be far fewer problems in the world today.
Although it's not always easy to live up to, the Golden Rule is widely considered to be a universal principle. That means that people believe it should be applied by all people in all situations, regardless of nation, culture, race, or any other factor. This belief appears in some form across many religions and philosophies, and it has been included as a fundamental moral value of some governments and the basis for many laws.
The actual term “Golden Rule" or “Golden Law" has been used since the late 17th century. But the belief was recorded far earlier in the Egyptian Book of the Dead (1580-1350 B.C.), and in practice probably goes back even farther.
Rather than merely abstaining from behaviors you yourself wouldn't like, take positive steps to help others in ways that we ourselves would like to be helped. In many places, it's part of being a good citizen and following the law.