The Platinum Rule
Trust is essential to well-being. Unless certain aspects of our lives are predictable, we live in constant anxiety and frequent fear. From what we understand thus far about the world, the universe around us, most physical aspects that we can observe directly, do behave in predictable ways. For example, we don’t have to guess what will happen when we throw a baseball or drop an egg.
Are human actions predictable? Yes, when they flow from striving to follow a given set of principles—or one basic principle the others are built upon. Following the non-coercion principle—also known as the ancient Golden Rule, or Platinum Rule—for example, results in predictable, truthful behavior that is respectful of the individual rights of others and does not normally rely upon ends to justify means—no one is violated in the process.
To quote Rabbi Hillel [30 B.C. -10 C.E.] “What is hateful to thee, do not unto thy fellow man: this is the whole Law; the rest is mere commentary” Why? Following this principle requires us to pay attention to how we affect others in the world around us, in an interested, but non-intrusive way. My simple way of looking at it is summed up by the phrase, “striving to be a good person.”
Just to be clear, striving to be a good person does not require canceling one’s own needs and desires. To the contrary, it requires a recognition that individuals who consistently fail to nurture themselves and their loved ones before extending their energies elsewhere, do more harm than good because they quash their own self-interest and ability to continue to function. It is not necessarily helpful to “do unto others.” Ayn Rand’s “Virtue of Selfishness “describes this phenomenon; so does the “negative” term (as in negative law, rights), the “not,” in the Platinum Rule. The U.S. Constitution is written in negative terms for this same reason.
Of course, we ARE free to help others when they request it, as we wish to and are also able to. What we are NOT free to do is to harm others in order to nurture ourselves or care for others. This is why honest private charities are moral—the wealth they collect is given freely. In contrast, government programs must take by force, through taxation, to give to those in need.
If we are to live as free individuals and not as drones or slaves to others who have more power than we, our actions must be determined by us, according to our own sense of purpose and understanding of others and the world, with the knowledge that whenever our actions will affect others against their will, they have a right to defend themselves in a comparable manner, and that we must be prepared to be responsible for the consequences of our actions. It really is this simple. At heart, we all understand this.
Government grows bigger and bigger and does more and more harm because individuals within it so often escape direct responsibility or consequences. This is proven true time and time again. Yes, every now and then someone is held accountable, but given the number of violations this is rare. The government is allowed to routinely commit clearly immoral actions, such as theft of income and property (including an individual’s time, life), without any consequences. Moreover, they are permitted to stamp their immoral actions with a seal of cultural approval called “social justice,” double-speak for anti-social-injustice.
Think of the example this behavior sets for the subconscious mind and for the aware minds of young people. The government teaches by example that it is okay to steal and to force people to attend government schools and to bully others in innumerable ways, so long as it’s done in the name of social-justice or promoting stability or protecting the environment or defending against terrorists—unintended consequences be damned. No wonder the world is so full of Machiavellians who are hindered (by coercion schooling and dependent living) from learning to read and to think and to take creative and healthy action to help themselves.
And those who can read quite well but still cannot think because they read nothing but the approved propaganda are even worse. Through their endorsement and constant reinforcement of the system, they are our overseers—this includes most of the media, most academics, most power-elite “businessman,” most power-elite politicians. They thrive upon our willingness to remain subservient and obedient. These labels are not meant to criticize wealthy individuals or business people or scholars who are honest, good—and there are many; I am not referring to these individuals.
Getting back to the importance of taking responsibility for the consequences of our actions, how do we predict consequences? We do this by looking to what we usually call our conscience, our mental, emotional ability to place ourselves in someone else’s shoes, to experience empathy. Using these powers that we all possess but that remain dormant or repressed in so many, we can predict with accuracy the consequences of our behavior, even to many steps outward from the immediate reaction, and even down many possible pathways.
For example, if I drive my car through my neighbor’s flower bed, I can predict he will be at least somewhat angry, because I know how I would feel if he were to do the same to mine. I can also predict that his anger will dissolve when he learns I did so to avoid hitting a toddler who ran after a ball. And that he will be warm and friendly toward me when I offer to help restore his flower bed to its previous condition. And that he will trust me and feel even more friendly toward me, when I follow through on my promise plus make the bed even better than before. Of course, another neighbor might not be as gracious but slight differences in temperament are also predictable.
When individuals live in a world full of other individuals that value the non-coercion principle (Platinum Rule) and the principle of self responsibility and of empathy for others, and try to follow them, most problems are solved peacefully and to the advantage of all concerned.
Of course, there will always be bullies, individuals who are not mentally or emotionally capable of “walking” in another person’s shoes. A bully might respond to the flower-bed-incident (let’s call it) by calling the police or his lawyer or both. He might demand a police report and accuse me of speeding and being reckless. He might file a suit for damages far beyond what is reasonable. He might try to discredit me by gossiping with the neighbors and telling them how irresponsible I am (even though the truth is the opposite).
Were I to knock on his door to try to reason with him, he might call 911 and accuse me of harassment and file a restraining order against me. He might then gossip further. Most in the community will not believe him, because they have learned from their own experiences that he is dishonest, but they will not speak up in my defense, because they are afraid of the consequences of invoking his ire.
They are afraid, because this man’s behavior is—you’ve got it—unpredictable, cruelly so. He does not respond with empathy to any given situation, but with a desperate and urgent push to “prove” his position is correct. It is hard to know whether his response will be relatively mild but annoying or totally insane. No amount of truth will persuade him to behave differently. From his view, life is a cock-fight and he is going to come out alive, no matter how vicious he has to get. For him, “being right” and maintaining a position of perceived control is all he has to live for.
In addition to wanting to avoid such bullies, I feel sorry for them, because they could have the potential to be good but may be trapped by their own minds, their own fears, their own perverted views of humanity. I feel sorry for them because only an utter collapse of their mental houses can possibly affect a cure—the foundation is THAT rotten.
I feel even more sympathy for everyone who cannot escape from the sphere of influence of these individuals who are a permeating poison. Even people who strive to be good often fail to live up to their own standards when in the presence of these types, because their human desire to be generally accepted and approved and to feel safe overwhelms their ability to speak the truth in defense of themselves and others.
Do you recognize this fictitious but true-to-type neighbor of mine? You should. He represents the worst side of humanity. He signifies a failure of conscience. He is the product of social conditioning. He is the product of a character that, subjected to difficult circumstances, made a Faustian bargain—“If I must be so afraid and miserable, I will make others even more afraid, more miserable. And I will show them!” Yet he is exactly the type of character we now cultivate in our schools, our government, our businesses, and, sadly, even our churches and homes. And why do we do this? Because we are all complicit in maintaining the big lie. Because we fail to tell the truth to ourselves and others about the immorality of coercion, of government force, because we are invested in the system in so many ways. We simply recoil and fail to look him in the eye and say, “No!”
We see this neighbor on the television every hour of every day. We hear him on the radio. We read his writing in the press. He resides in great number in the halls of Congress and on Wall Street. He frequents the White House. He is the leader of Canada, Mexico, Germany, France, Great Britain, Sweden, Italy, Spain, and Greece, and so on and so forth. In his worst form he is the leader of Russia, of China, of North Korea, of Iran, of India, of Pakistan, of Cuba, of Venezuela. He is Hitler. He is Stalin. He is Mao. He is Pol Pot. He infected Rwanda. He haunts the Middle East. For every civilization that gives him an inch, he gladly takes ten miles and cuts ruts so deep it’s hard to repair them. He takes credit for every corruption the world over.
Sad to say, he is at last on the verge of taking over most of the very people who were once the most fiercely resistant to him. Alas, because they could not make sense of the behavior of those around them, especially their leaders, they followed the example; they knew better deep down but they gave in. No one wants to be a hero when the hero repeatedly gets squashed. Too many gave into fear and became unpredictable themselves. They followed the examples of the majority of powerful people they saw around them, the people with the best clothes, the best hair, the best cars, the best houses, the best jobs. They thought at least they might have those things, too. Or, at least they might be spared the ire of the more powerful ones, they might remain in their favor, if nothing else.
Now we live in a time when this bully’s lies are exposed for all to see and to rebuke. And a few people do; they are like the little boy in Hans Christian Andersen’s tale, “The Emperor’s New Suit.” As for the rest, they are insane or pretending to see what they do not see, to maintain a farce that protects the power structure. Some have seen for a long time, for many, many years. But the truth was far more hidden until recently, because media communications were controlled by the Emperor and his minions. A unified tale was told that pacified most people, kept them satisfied enough.
But now that information flows freely on the internet—perhaps akin to the pamphlets of early America, with a lot of exaggerations, granted, but a whole lot of truth—those who see themselves as in control and wanting to maintain control are going to ridiculous lengths to continue the farce. We all know we cannot trust them. They all pretend that we can and that we must. If we doubt them they never give a direct answer, they only try to make us look foolish or childish or dangerous, when they are the guilty ones. Surely you have noticed this.
This is why there is such a constant push for control of the contents of the internet, for putting a stop to free linking and sharing of information. The powerful gave away the reins without realizing what they were doing. And now they are desperate to retrieve them. They know that once we realize we are holding the reins ourselves, we may choose to guide our own horse, rather than be led and driven, in submission to the will of others.
We have built our entire lives on corrupt foundations, without ever believing we were corrupt. We made up our minds not to ask too many questions because that makes us and others uncomfortable. We don’t like to embarrass professional liars, even while we secretly loathe them. Many of us are certain we are very good people. And once we attain a certain level of power and status and comfort, it is natural to wish to maintain it or to improve upon it. It is natural to want to ignore certain information, no matter how true, that could bring an undesirable but familiar structure tumbling down. We are afraid of a future without the masters to whom we’ve grown so accustomed.
That is why we frequently choose to ignore that little voice inside telling us how to strive to be a good person, telling us how to consider the consequences of our actions beyond the immediate results, telling us to value the truth and to act courageously when necessary.
Here are some of the lies we tell ourselves: “It’s what everybody’s doing. It’s no big deal. I don’t have a choice. I’ll take mine while I can get it. What was I supposed to do? I’m not going to be the nail that gets hammered. I don’t like it but it’s bigger than I am. I’m caught in the system. I don’t make the rules. I don’t make the laws. Somebody’s going to take it if I don’t. I’ll never get anywhere unless I play the game. It’s not my fight. I’m not going to lose everything I’ve worked for. They’re robbing us let’s do it back to them.”
And in some ways, we do have to accept that we cannot get everything right every time, that we cannot extricate ourselves from the corrupting influence of a corrupt government that is so large and pervasive. Even if you work mowing lawns you will be accepting money from numerous customers who benefit from some sort of corruption, seen or unseen.
We do indeed live in a complicated world and each individual has only so much energy and time to expend. Each, therefore, must determine his or her own purpose in this world. By the way, interfering—unasked—sometimes, often, makes things worse, so I’m not talking about trying to save the world by sacrificing. Not at all. I’m trying to show that we got to into this trap incrementally, by tiny, almost invisible steps based on fear and ignorance. Imagine what we can do by taking small but courageous steps toward goodness and truth.
Don’t laugh at the word goodness. Why would you laugh at such a word? Ask yourself why? Because you are a mature adult who understands the world is not so simple. Because you are more sophisticated than that. Because it’s such a vague term, who the heck knows what it means—one person’s good is another’s evil. Because you are not religious (neither am I, for that matter). Because that’s what your grandmother told you to be.
So what is wrong with that? Maybe she was right. Maybe our cynical, jaded, snide view of goodness is exactly what is wrong with us. Is it really so hard to think about whether your actions are coercive, use force, against another, whether directly or indirectly (through government, through propaganda, through media, through gossip, etc.)? Is it so really so hard to remember, “Do NOT unto others as you would NOT have them do unto you?”
Does this mean we should not speak the truth if it will result in someone else’s discomfort? No. Absolutely not. That is because a lie is a type of coercion or force. Truth is self-defense against a lie. If someone could physically hit you with a lie in the form of a baseball bat, would you try to block them with the truth in the form of a similar bat held up to counter the blow? Yes, the block might reverberate and hurt but it was justified, in self defense. See my point? Those that perpetuate lies in a free world of individuals who value the truth and speak out will not have credibility, not for long.
If most of us would just strive for goodness, maybe we could trust one another once again. And the trust would be greater than ever, because we could trust that most others do value the truth and do value the rights of others to be free. And if we would, maybe we could count on each other. We could be rich or poor and in between and respect each other and be friends because we place the highest value on honesty and integrity as the true measure of character and maturity, rather than material circumstances or social status.
And because the rules would not be constantly changing at the whim of bullies seeking control, we would find it a more predictable place. Not in the boring sense. In the sense that it is easy to plan for the long term and to be optimistic about the future, because we can, for the most part, know that behavior that should result in success (hard work, diligence, invention) will, for the most part, result in success—not in perverted failure or punishment, owing to, say, taxation, excessive regulation, and corrupt bureaucrats, bankers, corporatists, union bosses, and politicians.
It is difficult to strive to be a good person in a world that favors bullies. Think about the young man who defied the tank in Tiananmen square, only to be “disappeared.” Weep for the seventy million people who died under Mao Tse-tung in China’s Cultural Revolution. Say a prayer for those who perished under the brutal orders of Che Guevara. Lament how many died miserable deaths in Soviet Gulags. Mourn the twenty millions who were killed or tortured or mercilessly starved to death by Stalin and the six million ripped from their homes and starved and tortured and gassed by Hitler. Then grieve for the millions of Americans who died in unnecessary wars they thought they had to fight to defend their country, because they were striving to be good people in a very dishonest world.
Now cry some more for the almost two million brutally murdered in Cambodia by Pol Pot. Ponder the loss of thousands of Iraqi’s who rose up against Saddam Hussein in 1991 thinking they had our help only to be brutally crushed. Contemplate the horror of another million hacked to death by hoes and machetes in Rwanda. Then add to your woe by calculating how many thousands, millions were tortured and killed in the Middle East or starved to death in Africa by corrupt governments that siphon away aid money and resources for their own purposes. Weep again for the millions who died or suffered in the early days of our own country while living under a brutal and open form of slavery. Now, force yourself to pay attention to the almost one million individuals (many there for victimless crimes) in jails in the United States and the many more whose lives are less than they might otherwise have been because they are enslaved to government in one way or another. And there are so many more brutal acts by governments of our nation and many others, just in the last century, including eugenics, promoting abortion, forced sterilizations and vaccination, that I haven’t listed them all.)
Is there any good news? YES! We can break free. We can do it. But not with guns—though we must keep these because we have every right to, we are free individuals, and we need them for self-defense, to hunt for food, and to defend from outside invasion—not with violence of any kind. We break free simply by striving to be good, in the Platinum Rule, non-coercion principle, sense, and by paying attention and by telling the truth, even when it hurts in the short run. If we want our children and grandchildren to be free, we must strive to be good people, to live as free individuals, and to encourage others to do the same, one day, one baby-step at a time. And we must not ever stop trying.
P.S. I failed to mention the deliberate encroachment on our sovereignty by the United Nations, promoted by many within our own government–“Internationalists.” This is one of the greatest moral “battles” we will have to fight.
Related links . . .
Hillel and the Platinum Rule – http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/7698-hillel
Ayn Rand’s “The Virtue of Selfishness” – http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?pagename=objectivism_nonfiction_the_virtue_of_selfishness
Federalism and Social Justice – http://tenthamendmentcenter.com/2010/04/09/federalism-and-social-justice/
The Tank Man, Tienanmen Square, 1989 – http://youtu.be/40bI6wzCTck
20 Years After Tienanmen: Tank-Man Still a Mystery – http://youtu.be/uieND7g2ye0
John Taylor Gatto’s “The Underground History of American Education” – http://www.johntaylorgatto.com/underground/toc1.htm
The Philosophy of Liberty – http://youtu.be/8z1buym2xUM
Elite – http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/elite?s=t (see #3)
Machiavellian – http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/Machiavellian?s=t
Negative Rights, begins on page 7 – Two Philosophers Skeptical of Negative Liberty – http://mises.org/journals/scholar/Machan8.pdf
Source List and Detailed Death Tolls for the Primary Megadeaths of the Twentieth Century – http://necrometrics.com/20c5m.htm
Estimated Jewish Deaths During the Holocaust – http://www.humanitas-international.org/holocaust/jwlosses.htm
Stalin Killed Millions – http://news.stanford.edu/news/2010/september/naimark-stalin-genocide-092310.html
The Great Terror – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_Terror
The Truth About Mao – http://www.rense.com/general65/mao.htm
The Real Che Guevara – http://www.therealcuba.com/MurderedbyChe.htm
Pol Pot Killer File – http://www.moreorless.au.com/killers/pot.html
Cambodian Genocide Program – http://www.yale.edu/cgp/
1991 Uprisings in Iraq – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1991_uprisings_in_Iraq
Case Study: Genocide in Rwanda, 1994 – http://www.gendercide.org/case_rwanda.html
Israel-Palestine Death Toll – http://shanna11.hubpages.com/hub/Israel-Palestine-Conflict-Death-Toll
Syria, Egypt. Libya and Middle East Unrest – http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/middle-east-live/2012/jan/26/syria-egypt-libya-middle-east-unrest-live-updates
New Estimate Raises Civil War Death Toll – http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/03/science/civil-war-toll-up-by-20-percent-in-new-estimate.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all
Forgotten Story of Indian Slavery – http://www.raceandhistory.com/cgi-bin/forum/webbbs_config.pl/noframes/read/1362
New Findings About the Virginia Slave Trade – http://research.history.org/historical_research/research_themes/themeenslave/slavetrade.cfm
Atlantic Slave Trade - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlantic_slave_trade
Life, Liberty, and The Fact of Slavery – https://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/27/arts/design/smithsonian-and-monticello-exhibitions-on-jeffersons-slaves.html?pagewanted=all
About Slavery (27 million current) – https://www.freetheslaves.net/SSLPage.aspx?pid=304
Of course there are millions more dead or enslaved not listed here . . .In Memoriam
The Emperor’s New Suit – http://hca.gilead.org.il/emperor.html