8 April, 2022


Earlier in the term I spoke at both Middle and Senior School Assemblies about Faith. The thrust of my message was that regardless of your religious belief, non-belief or purely scientific approach to life, we all have Faith of one kind or another.

I have been fortunate to have travelled through many countries and met people of different cultures, races and religions and what that has reinforced for me is my Faith in the innate goodness of people.

I have Faith that the vast majority of people, when presented with two options, will choose that which is right, that which is good and that which does no harm. I choose to have Faith in people because I would rather think the very best of people and on the rare occasion be proven wrong, than live life assuming the worst of the people I meet.

Given that, I am sure everyone at some stage has experienced a situation where someone does something positive or generous without it being asked for or necessary. The consequence of that act was that we immediately thought better of that person, especially because the action was completely voluntary on that person’s behalf. It may result in the start of a life-long friendship, a strengthening of the bonds of an existing relationship or simply a high point in an otherwise regular day.

I am sure we’ve all heard the saying from the Bible, Matthew, Chapter 7, verse 12, ‘do unto others as you would want them to do unto you’. This is also known as The Golden Rule. This rule, however, is not the sole belief of Christians but is at the core of many of the world’s religions and cultures, the concept appearing prominently in Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Taoism, and Zoroastrianism.

The Islamic faith refers to The Golden Rule as the ethics of reciprocity and says that it is a moral principle which calls upon people to treat others the way they would like to be treated. The Hindu religion states, “This is the sum of duty; do naught unto others what you would not have them do unto you.” Buddhism says, “Treat not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.” Finally, Judaism states, “Do good to others as you would like good to be done to you. Regard bad for yourself whatever you regard bad for others. Accept that (treatment) from others which you would like others to accept from you. Do not say to others what you do not like to be said to you”.

The important understanding to take away from this is that The Golden Rule informs us how best to live our lives and be good people. This ethic of reciprocity informs and reinforces for us that when a person shows kindness towards you, you are more inclined to do the same to, or for, them or someone else.

There are alternative self-centred philosophies, such as:
• Treat other people the way they treat you.
• Give as good as you get (usually in a negative sense, ie, playing sport).
• Staying one step ahead of the game.
• Looking out for number one.

However, all these alternatives diminish the connection between individuals, sacrifice the good of others for self-serving personal gain, fail to build community and ultimately reinforce the divide between people. All of these are at the root of conflict around the world throughout history. Whereas, treating others the way you would like to be treated, is about focusing on giving rather than receiving and doing service for others. It’s about all of us thinking outwardly and being aware of our actions and how they can positively affect those we interact with. It’s what creates strong communities and provides a sense of belonging for all. This sense of belonging, being known, valued and cared for, is at the core of being a member of the Scotch Oakburn Community.

In living our lives by The Golden Rule and thinking of others first, we inadvertently live a happier, more fulfilling life ourselves.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Andy Müller