Stanley's blog

A common value

There is much talk about values and frequently comparisons between Western and Eastern values. There is at least universal agreement on one value, as spelt out below:

Buddhism

“Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.” (Udana-Varga 5.18)

Christianity

“Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you.” (Matthew 7:12)

Confucianism

“Do not do to others what you would not have them do to you.” (Analects 15:23)

Hinduism

“Do not do to others what would cause pain if done to you.” (Mahabharata 5.1517)

Islam

“Not one of you is a believer until you wish for others what you wish for yourself.” (Fourth Hadith of an-Nawawi 13)

Judaism

“What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbour.” (Talmud, Shabbat 31a; Tobit 4:15)

How sad that this universal value is universally ignored.

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Comments

  1. May I point out a subtle but important difference in the description of this “universal value” between Christianity (the west?) and the rest of the world?

    Christianity
    “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you.” (Matthew 7:12)

    The rest of the world:
    e.g. Confucianism
    “Do not do to others what you would not have them do to you.” (Analects 15:23)

    In fact, I think that there is a fundamental difference between the above two statements (thinking). And, may I dare to speculate that this difference might possess some explanatory power in relation to the way in which the West (mostly Christianity) has been behaving in the world?

    “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you.”

    To follow this way of thinking, the followers tend to believe that whatever they would like (others to do to them) MUST be desired by other people as well. Accordingly, they should do whatever they consider good to others. Whether the desirable (from their perspective) is indeed the same desirable for others is not considered.

    On the other hand, the thinking that “do not do to others what you would not have them do to you.” appears to address the same “universal value”, just from the other side of the “same”(?) coin.

    However, “do not do to others what you would not have them do to you.” does not encourage doing something that you consider good to others, but rather discourage doing something that EVEN you yourself dislike.

    Thus, “Do not do to others what you would not have them do to you.” is focused on avoiding damage (less productive sometimes?), whereas “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you.” is more proactive (more damaging sometimes?)

  2. cc, you make an excellent point

    I could not find a quote from the New Testament which is reactive and not proactive
    As to your speculation, Christianity tends to be proactive in the sense you have in mind, but of course Islam is also proactive
    Personally, I prefer reactive, whether or not it is “less productive”
    Whether or not this makes them different values does not affect the fundamental point I am trying to make

  3. Hello Stanley,

    Thanks for your appreciation. Perhaps both you and I are a bit “conservative”, or “risk averse” in dealing with the application of “universal values”.

    I don’t really know much about Islam (perhaps I should include Christianity too). I think that I did make a mistake (not careful enough reading) by classifying Islam into the rest of the world.

    Isn’t that interesting? Islam is twinning with Christianity here. Perhaps, not a big surprise. After all, Jesus is considered a prophet by Islam:-)

    My immediate thought on this is that maybe both Islam and Christianity emphasize “conversion”, correct me if otherwise. As a result, we see missionaries from both religions going all over the world. Perhaps the conviction is that the followers of these two religions believe, according to their “universal value”, i.e. “Not one of you is a believer until you wish for others what you wish for yourself.”, and “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you.”, it is their duty to do what they wish for themselves (i.e. becoming a believer of Juses/Allah) to others. I apologize if I am a bit blanket covering above.

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