I think Norma Lindemann (letters, Jan. 23) and I have had an exchange or two when it comes to faith, believing in God and practicing religion. I think we concluded by agreeing to disagree, which I think is a fair way to end that conversation. But in her Jan. 23 letter Ms. Lindemann cited the “Golden Rule” when imploring us to treat each other with more respect and consideration. She wrote that even if “you’re an avowed atheist practicing the Golden Rule…we could change the world in a heartbeat.” Oh, Ms. Lindemann, you have no idea just how correct you are, but not exactly in the way that you originally thought. Please allow me to illustrate my more personal, and slightly deranged, version of the Golden Rule.
We can start with concepts like forgiveness, and even permissiveness, and finish off with people who have masochistic tendencies. How would you expect those people to practice the Golden Rule? The way I practice the Golden Rule lies somewhere in between those two extremes — sometimes I forgive and sometimes I punish. It depends on a lot of things.
But now that we are back to citing Bible verses, I’ve got one of my own to throw against this Golden Rule thing. Take Matthew 22:36-40. Read it. What does it say? It says, and I quote:
36 – Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37 – Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 – This is the first and great commandment. 39 – And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. 40 – On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
It’s that line No. 39 where we have the problem, isn’t it, Ms. Lindemann? How are you going to fix that, the part about “as thyself”? We’re going to need battalions of therapists for that one. Until that’s fixed I can take your “Golden Rule” and wield it as a weapon. Be careful of how you speak, Ms. Lindemann. The political arena isn’t the only one with double-edged swords.