Dusting Off the “Golden Rule”

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1 Response to Dusting Off the “Golden Rule”

  1. Michael Pahl says:

    A great question from a friend on Facebook related to this post: “How do you allow yourself to be moved by compassion for those who think they are great – not broken or suffering? Can you put yourself in their shoes? My moral imagination is lacking for some (think some political leaders). Jesus got quite angry at people who misused their power and kept others down – I guess we need creative prophetic denunciation for some?”

    Here was my response:

    Yeah, I know what you mean (I can probably even imagine which leaders you might be thinking of…). I struggle with that, and I’ve especially struggled with that when the actions of people like that have been directed against me or affected my family. It takes a conscious effort to exercise moral imagination and be empathetic – but it’s important that we try.

    Good point that Jesus got angry at people who misused their power. Part of our moral imagination, I think, involves feeling real anger at those “powers-that-be” that oppress others, especially others who are particularly vulnerable (i.e. that’s part of empathizing with those who are broken and suffering). But it’s tempting then to treat those human leaders as monsters, to de-humanize them, so we need to exercise our moral imagination on their behalf as well. What has happened in their life that has stunted their moral development? What fears and insecurities are driving them to think and act the way they do?

    Here I’m reminded of Ephesians’ admonition that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against spiritual forces of evil.” I’m also reminded of MLK’s principles of nonviolent resistance, one of which is that such resistance is “directed against forces of evil rather than against persons who happen to be doing the evil.”

    None of that empathy, however, requires that I support that person being a world leader with a nuclear arsenal at their fingertips… :-/

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