Brian’s Reflection: Sat/Sun, Aug 23/24, 2008
Let everyone regulate his conduct... by the golden rule of
doing to others as in similar circumstances we would have
them do to us, and the path of duty will be clear before him.
- William Wilberforce, English parliamentarian (1780-1825),
convert to Christian faith, born on Aug 24, 1759
An amazing man! From a wealthy family. Educated at Cambridge. At age 21 (yes, 21) he was elected to the English Parliament and served there for 45 years. Some years into his political service, he took up the “evangelical” Christian life. He intended to resign (what? a real Christian be a …… politician ???!!!), but was dissuaded. He supported popular education, the reformation of public manners and morals, parliamentary reform, Roman Catholic emancipation and, perhaps most important and passionately, the abolition of slavery and the slave trade. Parliament put an end to the slave trade in 1807, just one month after Wilberforce died. It had been a long battle.
The Golden Rule can, in some form, be found in many religions and traditions. Jesus supported it, and He summed it up in His own Love one another as I have loved you. It certainly ranks among the top five teachings by which we humans can become fully and most beautifully human. (I won’t bore you again with what that it, in my book.)
Think what it would be like if we lived by the principle that we couldn’t/wouldn’t do anything to anybody unless we were first to have it done to us. Be sold into slavery? Charged 125% compound interest by these flourishing “paycheque loan” people? Waterboarded, or otherwise tortured? Have “outside” observers judge the fairness of every election? Condone suicide bombing? The list is endless. But the list of things that most of us are willing to do to others - even in the name of modern so-called security - would dramatically decrease if we had to undergo them. Anyone care to devote their life to getting the World community to adopt this Principle??
Wilberforce was a privileged man. So indeed are the vast majority of us in the Western world. The Golden Rule, and the Gospel, ask us to put ourselves in the place of others. Bottom line, what we do to others we do to ourselves. The whole fabric of the human community is shredded and soiled when we treat others the way we would never tolerate.
May we have more men and women like William Wilberforce, who discover the Holy within, and who see with holy eyes, and who defend the common humanity of us all.