Application Of The Golden Rule -- By: G. Frederick Wright
BSac 62:248 (Oct 1905) p. 782
Application Of The Golden Rule
According to the Golden Rule, we are to do unto others as we would have others do unto us. In the application of this rule, however, we meet with various difficulties; for it is at once seen that the last clause of the injunction really means, “what we ought to wish others to do unto us.” It is absurd to suppose that every irregulated wish should be gratified. The criminal eagerly wishes that those who are cognizant of his crime should neither reveal it, nor punish him for it. But that, certainly, is not the rule by which we should be guided in our conduct toward others. An ignorant person may desire a thing which would be to his disadvantage. To do to another as we in our ignorance would have him do to us might be to confer upon him a positive evil. However much we might desire alms, if we were beggars, we should find in that desire little justification for indiscriminate almsgiving. We are to do to others only what, under the guidance of pure benevolence and the highest wisdom, we should desire others to do to us.
But the second and principal difficulty in the application of the golden rule is, that the others whom we would serve have conflicting interests. We have more than one person or class to serve. In our individual conduct, as in making laws for a nation, we have to consider the “greatest good of the greatest number.” This makes an exceedingly difficult and complex problem out of every act of duty, especially amid the complications of modern business enterprises.
As man is constituted, and society organized, it seems impossible to conduct the business of the world except upon the principle of competition. Roughly speaking, society is de-vided into two classes, namely, producers and consumers,
BSac 62:248 (Oct 1905) p. 783
though each is in turn both producer and consumer engaged in exchange of products. As producers supplying the wants of consumers, we are all competing to see which can supply the wants on the cheapest and most attractive terms.
Modern civilization has been largely produced by labor-saving inventions. But every labor-saving invention is a direct injury to those who have already invested their capital in appliances less effective than those brought forward by the new inventor. For example, when the modern mowers and reapers were invented, their use at once depreciated the value of all the factories where scythes and cradles were made. The individual owners of these factories, and indeed of these individual primitive instruments of harvesting, were injured by the invention. They lost their market. Their factories ceased to run. Their scythes and cradles were suffered to h...
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