Chapter 2: Idolatry Then & Now Part 7
Over the last two posts, I have been building towards a value system that can be described in three rules. Here is a recap, and the third rule.
- The Golden Rule, which is found in different forms in over a dozen religions and philosophies worldwide. My synthesis: consider the impact on other people before taking an action, and then try not to be hurtful.
- The Rule Of Self-Preservation, which says that you have a duty to protect yourself, because if you don’t, who will?
- The Rule of Universality. Rules I & II always apply, even when we choose not to follow them.
In summary: Put people first. Always.
I admit it, on the surface it seems like a paradox, that the people-first value system requires that we both look out for the needs of others, and for the needs of ourselves? But that is the nature of humanity, and in fact the universe. Yin and Yang, selfishness and selflessness, mind and body, matter and energy are all ways of describing things that on paper may seem as opposites, but in reality manifest as a continuum.
Remember Hillel, the Rabbi who lived 2,000 years ago, who formulated the Jewish version of the Golden Rule? As a reminder, he said “That which is hateful to you, don’t do to your fellow. That is the whole of Torah [Jewish teachings].” Hillel had another saying that bears on this discussion. “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? If not now, when?” Hillel was teaching that yes, The Golden Rule is preeminent. And, we need to look out for ourselves too. These rules always apply, even when we chose not to, or are unable to follow them. Hillel teaches these as questions, because life is complicated, and everyone is different. How we answer them is the challenge of living.
Throughout the book, when I refer to people-first values, I am referring to these three tenets. Consider the needs of others but don’t be a doormat. Always.
Next post – back to idolatry, the adoption of a value system that conflicts with people-first values.