Monday, January 16, 2006

The Ethic of Reciprocity

"Every religion emphasizes human improvement, love, respect for others, sharing other people's suffering. On these lines every religion had more or less the same viewpoint and the same goal." The Dalai Lama

There is near unanimity of opinion among almost all religions, ethical systems and philosophies that each person should treat others in a decent manner. Almost all of these groups have passages in their holy texts, or writings of their leaders, which promote this Ethic of Reciprocity. This is the concept that we should treat others as we would wish them to treat us.

The greatest failure of organized religion is its historical inability to convince their followers that the Ethic of Reciprocity applies to all humans, not merely to fellow believers.


Taoism: "The sage has no interest of his own, but takes the interests of the people as his own. He is kind to the kind; he is also kind to the unkind: for Virtue is kind. He is faithful to the faithful; he is also faithful to the unfaithful: for Virtue is faithful." Tao Teh Ching, Chapter 49

Ancient Egyptian: "Do for one who may do for you, that you may cause him thus to do." The Tale of the Eloquent Peasant, 109 - 110 Translated by R.B. Parkinson. The original dates to 1970 to 1640 BCE and may be the earliest version ever written.

Roman Pagan Religion: "The law imprinted on the hearts of all men is to love the members of society as themselves."

Christianity: "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” Matthew 5:43-45

Islam: "For the white to lord it over the black, the Arab over the non-Arab, the rich over the poor, the strong over the weak or men over women is out of place and wrong." Hadith of Ibn Majah

Epictetus: "What you would avoid suffering yourself, seek not to impose on others." (circa 100

Plato: "May I do to others as I would that they should do unto me." (Greece; 4th century

Socrates: "Do not do to others that which would anger you if others did it to you." (Greece; 5th century

Albert Schweitzer: "Compassion, in which all ethics must take root, can only attain its full breadth and depth if it embraces all living creatures and does not limit itself to mankind."

[excerpted from]


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