There used to be a small department store in downtown Norfolk, Nebraska called the Golden Rule. Their advertising slogan was “We Serve You Right”. The slogan was a perfect fit for the store’s name. Unfortunately, the small Golden Rule chain closed their Norfolk store many years ago, leaving a gap in the work wear retail market.
The name of the old store and its slogan appeared out of the blue in my mind when I drove through downtown yesterday. The Golden Rule, of course, is the Christian version of a moral precept that goes by different names according to spiritual or ethical traditions around the globe.
We know the Golden Rule as treat others as you want others to treat you. It’s a beautifully elegant piece of advice. It makes perfect sense. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everybody followed it?
There’s an equally powerful corollary to the Golden Rule that really must be applied at the same time one applies the Golden Rule. That is, “Don’t treat others the way you don’t want to be treated.” So when we combine the two pithy recommendations, we get an ironclad, simple rule of ethics that applies in every scenario we can think of.
One of the major social issues that troubles America these days is discrimination. For some reason, this detestable practice is making a major comeback. Discrimination according to race, gender, sexual orientation, and country of origin used to be ubiquitous. Through harsh struggles, much of this nonsense had been legally abolished.
After years of hibernation, this monster has risen its ugly head once more. It now goes by such new names as reverse discrimination, religious freedom, or border control. These innocent sounding terms are just dog-whistles to curry favor with folks who have axes to grind against women and minorities. There is nothing spiritual or holy about discrimination.
The whole issue of discrimination would vanish in an instant if treating others as one treats oneself and not treating others as one doesn’t want to be treated was sincerely adopted by everyone. Again, the beauty of this ethic is that it respects people of all religions, ethical systems, and non-believers alike. That’s why some variant of it appears in every culture.
Such is the beauty of that little store’s slogan, “We serve you right.” If the personal pronoun is changed from we to I, the perfect personal slogan is apparent and ready for everyone to use.