The Golden Rule vs. The Silver Rule

The Golden Rule (of Christianity) is “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” The Silver Rule (of LaVeyan Satanism) is “Do unto others as they do unto you.” I discuss the psychological effects and consequences of these subtly different foundational principles of morality.

Video responses:

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12 thoughts on “The Golden Rule vs. The Silver Rule

  1. Robert Miller says:

    Hi Darryl,

    Interesting thoughts – I think that in some ways there is overlap between the two. Treating others the same way as you want to be treated is not always going to be practical or correct and an eye for an eye and tooth for tooth leaves a lot of blind and toothless people

    However, in terms of meeting needs and fulfilling basic wants I think the golden rule is appropriate, if someone is starving then feed them, if they are naked then clothe them, if someone is drowning throw them a lifeline.

    Now I see a “Do unto others as they do unto you” in a different way, for instance if business mistreats people then don’t give them any more business, if governments are not governing well then vote them out.

    Right enough rambling

    Toodle-pip

    Robert

  2. Robert Miller says:

    A little more thought from a faith perspective.

    I’d also add that when the pharisees challenged Jesus actions, he did not turn the other cheek but rebuked them rightly for their hypocrisy. They were certainly not adhering to the Golden Rule as they practiced their faith and Jesus did not minister to the pharisees by ignoring them and walking away. Certainly a dichotomy there.

  3. David says:

    You need a new rule, A Platinum Rule.

    Do unto others as they would do unto you. However, those who are malevolent; do unto them as they have done unto you.

    David

  4. Darryl Sloan says:

    Some good thoughts, Rob. I think this matter at hand illustrates how we want to find easy “catch-all” principles to handle all situations, but they’re hard to find. Ultimately, I see morality as a matter of action and consequences. We act in such a way as to bring about desired consequences. I might choose to walk away from my adversary in one instance, or teach him a lesson in another. I don’t see any real right or wrong to either.

    David,

    Hmm, interesting. You’re suggesting we pre-empt another’s potential mistreatment of us by getting in first. I see problems here. For instance, this would appear to give authorities the liberty to imprison people for crimes they will (might?) commit, rather than what they do commit. Then again, if you know somebody is plotting to kill you, makes sense to do something about it before that actually happens.

    Consider each situation on its own merits, I think, and use whatever principle suits the outcome you want – gold, silver, platinum, or whatever.

  5. David says:

    Hi Darryl,

    That’s not quite what I meant. First of, I believe everyone should follow the Golden Rule. However, human nature being what it is some people treat others quite badly. Only when you meet people who treat you badly should you then treat them the same way that they are treating you.

    Hope this clears it up.

    David

  6. Rodrigo says:

    Spot on.

    Some will say that the silver rule only goes if you care on what others say
    to you – namely that friend of yours.. Again, ignoring others seems the right
    thing to do (the bicicle example).

    I heard the other day the following: “think of others as people who are trying
    to escape suffering the wrong way, by pointing to others as they cant seem to
    perceive of themselves…”

    Meh. The ego is there for a reason, apply it at your own lesson expense.

    -Rodrigo

  7. Rodrigo says:

    “think of others as people who are trying
    to escape suffering the wrong way, by pointing to others as they cant seem to
    perceive of themselves…”

    correction:

    “think of others [that attack you with emotional reasons] as people who are trying
    to escape suffering the wrong way, by pointing to others as they cant seem to
    perceive of themselves…”

    Sorry for the edit.

  8. Claire says:

    Hi Darryl,

    If golden rule= just be a complete doormat and silver rule= give back exactly as good as you get, meeting wrong with wrong, then I think that they are both nonsense.

    It sounds to me that the situation with your Xtian friend happened because you swung between both of these modes of action and neither of them worked. He was probably so completely mired in fundamentalism/indoctrination etc. that he really couldn’t see that he was mistreating you.

    He probably thought that he was doing you a favour and “trying to win your soul back to Christ”. You could have pointed out to him that you felt patronised and explained how you felt mistreated by him, but respectfully.

    Instead you bit your tongue. Because you bit your tongue he got no feedback at all that what he was doing wasn’t on, so he kept on going. Then one day you could take it no more and treated him with exactly the same disrespect that you felt treated with. He would probably never have anticipated that in a million years. All that did was leave him confused and upset, all because you never told him, RESPECTFULLY that his behaviour wasn’t on.

    Anyhoo that’s my two cents.

  9. Darryl Sloan says:

    Hi, Claire.

    Thanks for your thoughts. When I said in the video that “I bit my tongue,” that was a bit of summary. I actually did respectfully try to let him know the effect he was having on me, on more than one occasion, but it never seemed to get through. No matter what I said, the condescension and snide remarks never stopped coming. So what I’m saying is, sometimes it takes the Silver Rule to get through.

    Me exploding at him in the end is certainly not the Silver Rule in motion, but rather the cumulative effect of being stuck in an abusive relationship long-term, without resolution. The only other option was to end the relationship, which is what I ultimately had to do, for my own sanity.

    I honestly think each situation calls for its own careful consideration of consequences, and there’s a time and place for the Silver Rule, as long as it’s employed with a positive outcome in mind, rather than for purely mindless reactionary revenge.

  10. Chris B says:

    The Silver Rule is actually “Do not do unto others as YOU WOULD NOT HAVE THEM DO UNTO YOU.”

    In other words don’t harm others if you don’t want them to harm you.
    Unlike the Golden Rule this one focuses on what you shouldn’t do instead of what you should do.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silver_rule

    The way you said it is the way Satanists twisted it but the actual Silver Rule is stated above and was followed by Ghandi and MLK Jr. LaVey took out the “not’s” and then changed the last half almost completely. LaVey changed it from “Do No Harm” to “An Eye For An Eye.” Big change.

  11. Dolores says:

    Hi,

    I think that both rules have their advantages and disadvantages. If you practice the Golden Rule, you can show people precisely how dominating, controlling, and abusive they are. For instance, literally turning the other cheek exposes your aggressor for what he is if he slaps you a second time. This works for me because I live in a city and people always try to hog the sidewalk in these really petty territorial ways. One day I was walking along and I must have been doing this because a man moved around me in a very dramatic way. It seemed to say, “I’m not only going to move, I’m going to MOVE so you’re going to see just how much room I’m making for you!” I started to think about how if someone ordered you around you could go the extra mile but make a fool of them in the process so when they start saying, “Oh you don’t have to walk on eggshells for me!” you could say, “You really see things as they are too! I don’t really meet too many smart people.” Then it shows them who they are rather than hanging onto to the illusion that they are a “kind but firm” person. This can work for arguments too by making your opponent look narrow minded and egotistical if you say, “I’m so sorry I am making you cranky. I think you should take a little nap. Then we can go back to talking about these grown up questions which can be so complicated sometimes!”

    Dolores

  12. Max says:

    When you apply the silver rule you’re not copying people, my mother taught me the silver rule. However mum no longer likes the silver rule thanks to Confucius because he’s being anti-individualistic, he’s running a bunch of sheep, that’s bullshit. Because someone sticks up the middle finger I wouldn’t, if someone is a monster I would be a monster because I’m avoiding that which I wouldn’t like others to do to me. You can’t tell people what they do is wrong, everyone’s morals are different, the problem is thinking, if you think something is bad you’re paranoid, it’s bad when you feel it, and morality is not real, it’s a fantasy, of course it is, because it’s in your mind, which is disgusting, get your mind over matter!

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