Most people are familiar with the Golden Rule given by Christ Jesus: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, for this is the law and the prophets” (Matthew 7:12).
Other faith traditions have their own version of the Golden Rule: “What is hurtful to yourself do not to your fellow man” (Judaism); “Do unto all men as you would they should unto you, and reject for others what you would reject for yourself” (Islam); “Hurt not others with that which pains yourself” (Buddhism).
The Golden Rule I try to apply in life is the Sixth Tenet of Christian Science as stated by Mary Baker Eddy, discoverer and founder of Christian Science: “And we solemnly promise to watch and pray for that Mind to be in us which was also in Christ Jesus; to do unto others as we would have them do unto us; and to be merciful, just, and pure.”
The Golden Rule is universal and applies to all people throughout all times.
Following the rule is not just a nice thing to do, but necessary, because it is based on spiritual law.
I thought I lived my life according to the Golden Rule. However, a number of years ago there was a situation in which I neg- lected the Golden Rule.
My son was in a serious auto accident while driving my car. The other driver had fallen asleep at the wheel and was clearly at fault. My son’s pass-enger, his best friend and a fellow gymnast, was injured with a shattered leg and severe facial cuts and bruises.
Several months later, I was served with papers saying my son and I were being sued by the friend and his family for personal injuries. We were told informally that they sued us because the party at fault didn’t have much insurance.
My reaction was that they were acting out of greed. My son and I met with a lawyer over the course of a year. Each time we met, he was concerned that a jury would be very sympathetic toward the injured party and make an award well above my insurance limits — possibly one in seven figures.
The situation looked grim; my resentment toward the other party continued to grow.
I decided to call a Christian Science practitioner to pray about the case and my anxiety stemming from it. The first thing he asked was how I would feel if the plaintiffs were Christian Scientists.
I said that I would think they were honest. He responded, “Well!”
I got the point and began to change my view of the other party. By the time we hung up, all anxiety was gone. Three months later, we met with our lawyer; he was even more grim about the outcome while I remained anxiety-free.
On the night before the trial, our lawyer called and said, “You’ll never believe this, but the other party settled for an amount of compensation well below the policy limits.”
I prayed to open my consciousness to God’s thoughts and to respond to my duty to treat other people as I would want them to treat me.
I am convinced that when I brought my convictions in line with the Golden Rule, this was a turning point, not only for me but for the plaintiffs.
When we spiritually uplift our consciousness, it lifts those around us as well and makes all receptive to God’s message of mercy, justice and purity.
Michael Hottenstein is board chairman at First Church of Christ, Scientist, in State College and a member of Interfaith Initiative Centre County.