In today’s polarized society, we might find common ground if we can find common spiritual values and principles.
I don’t mean religious beliefs or theology. I mean the deepest values shared by all spiritual traditions, both around the globe and right here in Dallas.
Norman Rockwall, the beloved American painter, catalogued in his writing how every spiritual tradition has a version of the Golden Rule:
- Baha’i Faith — Lay not on any soul a load you would not wish to be laid upon you, and desire not for anyone the things you would not desire for yourself.
- Buddhism — Treat not others in ways you yourself would find hurtful.
- Christianity — In everything, do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law of the prophets.
- Confucianism — One word which sums up the basis of all good conduct: Loving-kindness. Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself.
- Hinduism — This is the sum of duty: Do not do to others what would cause pain if done to you.
- Islam — Not one of you truly believes until you wish for others what you wish for yourself.
- Jainism — One should treat all creatures in the world as one would like to be treated.
- Judaism — What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. This is the whole Torah; all the rest is commentary.
- Native Spirituality — We are as much alive as we keep the earth alive.
- Sikhism — I am a stranger to no one, and no one is a stranger to me. Indeed, I am a friend to all.
- Taoism — Regard your neighbor’s gain as your own gain, and your neighbor’s loss as your own loss.
- Unitarianism/Universalism — We affirm and promote respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
- Zoroastrianism — Do not do unto others whatever is injurious to yourself.
These are powerful reminders of our deeply held human sensibility that we should do unto others as we would ourselves. Philosopher Immanuel Kant said it this way: Take no action that you wouldn’t want to be universally applied to everyone, everywhere, all the time.
The Golden Rule — however we choose to express it — helps us determine if our conversation about social justice is grounded in politics, partisanship, economics, wealth, power, or a deep awareness that we are all interconnected and belong together in this one life, all made in the image and likeness of the One Divine Creator.
Ponder each issue by asking yourself: Would I want this to be applied to my wife, daughter, brother, father, or any member of my family?
Would I want this action to be taken or refused if it affected my family, my children, and my grandchildren in exactly this same way, even if they lived in another county, state, or country?
Social Justice, in the context of a spiritual perspective, invites us to promote the things that lift all people up, empowering them to have better lives, healthy food, reasonably prosperous living conditions, clean air and water, sustainable lifestyles, and a society that celebrates the unique beauty and value of each person and all creation.
Social Justice from a spiritual perspective is not against the past or tradition or wealth, but rather it is for a compassionate forward-looking interdependence that invites us to be generous, caring, and open.
Rather than shouting at each other through social media, Social Justice from a spiritual perspective takes an entirely different conversation into businesses, board rooms, government halls, and corporate offices.
It asks how we can be the best we can be as part of humanity. It invites a discussion from the long view. Rather than just this quarter’s profits, this year’s jobs, or this nation’s power, it encourages innovation and empowerment that is sustainable over decades and generations.