w w w . g l o b a l e t h i c p e n a n g . n e t.

What is the Global Ethic?
What is the Golden Rule?
The Golden Rule in world religions
Every human being
must be treated humanely
Have respect for life!
Deal honestly and fairly!
Speak and act truthfully!
Respect and love one another!

There is a principle which is found and has persisted in many religious and ethical traditions of humankind for thousands of years: What you do not wish done to yourself, do not do to others.

Or in positive terms: What you wish done to yourself, do to others! This should be
the irrevocable, unconditional norm for all areas of life, for families and communities, for races, nations, and religions.

From the ‘Declaration Toward
a Global Ethic’ of the Parliament of the World’s Religions,
Chicago 1993.


What is the Golden Rule?

The Golden Rule is the most fundamental common ethical denominator of all religious and non-religious belief systems on Earth. Although profound in meaning, it can be easily understood because its message is simple:

“Treat others as you would like to be treated” or
“Do not treat others as you would not like to be treated”.

This is the basic law of peaceful human co-existence and can, therefore, be characterized as the mother of ethics of humankind.

As a matter of fact, the Golden Rule is found in the holy scriptures of all major religions and faiths – in different words but with the same divine meaning.

The Golden Rule is not only laid down in the basic texts of all world religions but also in the main non-religious philosophical theories where it is often referred to as the principle of reciprocity. The famous German philosopher Immanuel Kant once called the Golden Rule “the categorical imperative” of humane co-existence on Earth.

As the Golden Rule is found in virtually every important religious and non-religious belief system throughout human history all over the Earth, it seems to be the basic law or constitution for humankind.

Without any doubt, the Golden Rule is the fundamental ethical standard on Earth. All other precepts derive from it, for example:

Have respect for all life, or “You shall not kill”.

As you do not want others to kill you, therefore you should not kill others.

Deal honestly and fairly, or “You shall not steal”.

As you do not want others to steal your belongings, therefore you should not steal their belongings.

Speak and act truthfully, or “You shall not lie”.

As you do not want others to lie to you, therefore you should not lie to others.

Respect and love one another, or “You shall not commit sexual immorality”.

As you do not want others to take your wife/husband, therefore you should not take the wife/ husband of another.

There are many other moral values and ethical standards which are shared by all faiths and belief systems, like the respect for human rights (i.e. every human being must be treated humanely), love and compassion, justice, caring and sharing, environment (nature) protection, honesty, integrity, accountability, etc.

Let us try to make the Golden Rule and the many other common ethical standards and shared moral values to be accepted as the global ethic of humankind by as many people as possible!

Obviously, if the great majority of people practise the Golden Rule, we would definitely live in a better and much more peaceful and just world. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that we start to educate our children about the Golden Rule and other common ethical standards.

We should do this not only in our families but also in the public school system. This means that education about the Golden Rule, shared moral values and common ethical standards should become an integral part of the curricula of kindergartens and primary and secondary schools all over the world.

In fact, such an education would be an education for peace – peace in the family, peace in the community, peace in the country and peace among nations. Such an education would be a peaceful but forceful weapon against the spread of extremism on all sides.

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