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Golden Rule Radical

A Simple Philosophy, But I Like It

You may call God love, you may call God goodness. But the best name for God is compassion. - Meister Eckhart (1260-1327), Christian mystic and theologian

I often drop into Wondercafe, a forum site sponsored by The United Church of Canada. While it can be as fractious a place as any on the 'Net, it has maintained a remarkably civil tone over the three years or so of it's existence. That tone, I think, has enabled a surprisingly diverse group of people to share their thoughts and beliefs and to recognize in each a unity in their diversity.

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From conservative to liberal to atheist,many have contributed to an array of discussions including the eternal ethical question of "why should we be good?"

That question was raised again in the thread. When it comes right down to it.., when the originator asked: Money, possessions and attributes will go unheeded so what do you think? Should we live day to day the best we can because in the long run that's all that matters.

One of the responders in the thread said in part: It's the only life you can be sure you get. Live it well. It's a fairly simple philosophy, but I like it.

One of the most compelling aspects of the Golden Rule for me is it's simplicity. As Hillel is written to have said all the rest is commentary. That doesn't mean it's unimportant. But it puts things in their proper order.

Meister Eckhart didn't say that God calls us to compassion. Nor that we show compassion as a result of a relationship with God. He said that the best name for God is compassion.

That understanding of "God" makes the Divine inseparable from us,because compassion is expressed through us. Even those who see no God at all in the universe agree to the need for compassion and understand that we are all part of one world, no matter how we perceive it's foundation.

Nature is often breathtakingly beautiful. It is also often agonizingly ruthless. God does not intervene to deny us the former, nor to spare us the latter. Whether that is because, as my atheist friends would insist, God doesn't exist, or whether it's for a different reason know only to God, doesn't really matter.

What matters is that compassion, the capacity to put ourselves in the place of another and then to choose to act to help, or not, is entirely up to us.

Compassion, it seems to me, is the ultimate expression of "being good." There is no doctrine, no law, no statute, that requires us to be "compassionate."It requires no courts to enforce it, no organizations to administer it, no referendums to enact it.

On the Charter for Compassion website, visitors are invited to share acts of compassion that they have been part of or experienced. There are no stories of huge government projects or multinational charities. There are hundreds of anecdotes of individuals and small groups taking a few moments or a few hundred hours to reach out to each other.

We may call compassion the name of God, or we may call it human nature; we may label it the "Golden Rule", the "Ethic of Reciprocity", or just common sense; we may find it's source in theology or in science. All of those things are commentary. This is the whole of it that we act toward one another as if we and the 'other' we're one.

It's a simple philosophy, but I like it.

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Contributing Sources

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Posted in Churches/Faith/Religion Post Date 01/02/2017


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