The Wikipedia article about the Golden rule gives a fair description of the subject as does this encyclopedia entry. The golden rule seems to be a truly universal principle. Except for what it misses, of course. Consideration for cultural goals and individual intent. The golden rule is so foundational to our culture that we do not question its basic assumptions of benevolence and positive self-gratification. The notion that we all want to feel good and want only good things happen to us. The notion that we know what a good thing is, while the Golden Rule is actually nothing more than an expressed preference for reciprocity. All the rest we read into it is just a bunch of cultural assumptions.
Is it difficult to imagine a culture where the foundation of morality is NOT mutual respect, mutual goodwill and cooperation but violent competition and strict structure? Most of the animal kingdom functions on this principle. You have the right to live, the right to eat, the right to mate ONLY as long as you can establish your right to do it through sheer physical violence or the threat of it. Competing animals proving their fitness for any of it is a reciprocal desire. A genetic imperative.
Giving no mercy and asking none is just a different interpretation of the golden rule. Anyone willingly entering into a death-match accepts this. Saying that “I will do everything in my power to kill you and I expect you to do the same” is asking for reciprocity.
Entering the fight does not mean that either would wish to die, it means accepting the idea that the outcome is more important than their personal life. This may be the golden rule for highly competitive, highly structured cultures. Such cultures did exist in our history and as long as they are self-contained they can function with whatever degree of success. The problem only comes when such an interpretation of the rule meets with a different one. What do you say to someone who says “I am going to kill you! Defend yourself!” He is following the golden rule. He wants you to do to him what he wants to do to you.
Clearly, this interpretation of the Golden rule isn’t exactly compatible with ours. Now try to raise this to the level of cultures. Mutual respect and tolerance of cultures only work if all cultures subscribe to the notion of mutual respect and tolerance. It does not work if respect and tolerance is missing from any of them.
It is said that a sadist is just a masochist who follows the Golden Rule. When Muslims are killing us in the name of their faith, they are just applying the Golden rule as they are willing to die for their faith as well. This is in fact what they consider their greatest strength. They will conquer us – they say – because unlike us, they do not fear death.
“We tell them, in as much as you love life, the Muslim loves death and martyrdom. There is a great difference between he who loves the hereafter and he who loves this world. The Muslim loves death and strives for martyrdom.”
— Mufti Sheikh Ikrimeh Sabri, Chief Palestinian Authority Cleric
“The believers in Allah rightly do not dread their enemies and do not fear Jihad, because they see Jihad as a profitable bargain, selling their lives to Allah to get paradise in return. Their enemies protect their own lives, as criminals do. Allah has already said about them: ‘You will find that they are the people who protect their own life more than anyone else.’ The believers do not fear the enemy during the struggle and do not protect their lives. Allah has promised them one of two good things: [either] victory or martyrdom… Yet their enemies protect their lives like a miser protects his money. They do not give their lives easily; they do not enter into battles seeking martyrdom; they do not act in order to attain martyrdom. This is the secret of the believers’ victory over their enemies – though the believers are few and the polytheists many, with advanced weaponry and equipment.”
— Abdallah Al-Naggar, a religious columnist for the Egyptian government daily Al-Gumhuriya
Islam was created to provide an ideological foundation to the violent, murderous barbarism of the Arabian nomads.
The ultimate goal of Islam is not individual salvation but collective conquest. Not the after-life but worldly power. Not persuasion, tolerance and understanding but, subjugation and violence. The promise of eternal life is just the wage of worldly jihad. The meaning of the word Islam is ‘submission’. Muslims can only submit or subjugate. They are not capable of understanding any other option. Their holy book does not allow them. They will either win or die trying. They cannot call themselves Muslims if they do not believe that eventually they will conquer, convert or kill you. That is the essence of the faith.
I don’t think that they are correct to think that we fear death, we just value life which is seen as a sign of weakness in any primitive society. They want to die for their faith and we are unwilling to kill them. Of course they are mad, of course they will keep provoking us. The excuses will just get sillier as the provocations will get bloodier.
The nature of tragedies is that all parties involved believe that they are doing the right thing. What we need to realize is that in this conflict of cultures we all follow a golden rule, just not the same one. Kill or be killed is not the same as live and let live. As long as we understand that the golden rule is not absolute, as long as we understand that ours is not the only possible interpretation, as long as we understand that some of those interpretations are fundamentally incompatible with ours, we have a fighting chance to make ours prevail. The key word is fighting. We cannot give in, we cannot apologize for who and what we are. The riots, the violence, the rapes, the murders and the mob behaviour in general are signs of primitive cultures. OURS is better. Why are we so hesitant to proclaim it? In a conflict where one side wants to accommodate and the other exterminate, the first can be better described as suicidal. Cultural relativism is suicidal. We have to believe in our own values and stand up for them.
Because the alternative is ISLAM, and it is not pretty. Intolerance never is.
I am not exactly a fan of Ben Stein, but this article of his complements the above quite nicely.