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In tough times, stick to principles

As we witness the current whirlwind of American life – including, sadly, many tragedies – it seems that extreme elements of both major political parties increasingly view our constitutional system not as a treasure bestowed on us by the founding fathers (and mothers), as a safeguard against tyranny, but instead as a barrier to be overcome in achieving their respective agendas: authoritarian populism from Republicans, socialism/secularism from Democrats. These factions appear to be gaining strength.

The uproar rising from today’s frenzied political rallies echo those from the world of the 1930s. And so, we again live in a time of demagogues, whose stock-in-trade is not truth but rather lies, fear, and hate.

The corrosive side effect of all this is a nation that has become more “tribal,” dividing itself into two more-or-less distinct rival camps, each loathing the other, thus creating an ever-increasing disfunction within government, society, culture, and even families. And like a disease, a cancer, it is growing. Yet, there is a cure.

Throughout the centuries, there has been an ancient principle – a prescription of sorts – used to heal epidemics of discord among individuals and groups of people. It has been expressed in various ways:

“Treat others as you want to be treated, for this sums up the Law and the prophets” (Jesus [Matthew 7:12]).

“Don’t oppress a foreigner, for you well know how it feels to be a foreigner, since you were foreigners yourselves in the land of Egypt” (Exodus 29:9).

“None of you is a true believer unless he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself” (Muhammad [several Hadiths]).

“Hurt not others with what pains yourself” (Buddha [Dhammapada]).

“Don’t do to others what you don’t want them to do to you” (Confucius [Analects 15:23]).

“As the virtuous man is to himself, he is to his friend also, for his friend is another self” (Aristotle [Nicomachean Ethics: 9:9]).

This principle, popularly known as the Golden Rule, is usually worded as follows: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” (The above versions and other variations can be found in the book “Ethics and the Golden Rule,” by Harry J. Gensler.)

John Adams, a founding father and second president of the United States, once said: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious People. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

Let us together practice the Golden Rule in our daily lives.

Let us together meet the darkness of lies, fear, and hate with the light of truth, hope, and love.

Let us together – “We the People of the United States” – once again embrace the principles of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, humbly seeking guidance and strength from “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God” and “divine Providence.”

– George Foster, Huntington