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Right By Others

March 27, 2010

Vivian Gornick in Boston Review:

When I was young, I thought that Hillel’s “do unto others as you would have others do unto you”—the Golden Rule—was all the political theory necessary to make the world a good place in which to live. The Rule demanded only that I honor the same irreducible humanity in my fellows that I identified in myself. Just as I understood that I wished—no, needed—to not be dismissed, discounted, or traduced; restrained, cheated, or humiliated; robbed, raped, or murdered; so I understood that all other persons needed the same. This practice alone would provide the equality necessary to make all of us see ourselves in one another.

Equality. The word itself moved me, made my heart sing. Instinctively, I felt that equality was the key to human comradeship. In fact, I thought that it almost didn’t matter how impoverishing or threatening a circumstance might be, so long as it was experienced equally. Repeatedly, throughout history, it had been shown that the most soul-destroying of conditions—wars, plagues, depressions—could be borne if shared equally. [More]

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