The Golden Rule is not another way I can rightfully hammer someone with the Bible.
Knowing full well how uncomfortable I get when a stranger approaches me for money or other help, I should understand the challenge of the Golden Rule. Despite that fact, I continue to focus a lot of my commentary in these pages on the disconnect between professed Christianity and the behavior of Christians. I suddenly realize that in reality I attempt to denounce self righteousness by engaging in the same. It often seems to be the only way. Can I preach to you without preaching to myself. Absolutely not. And who says I should preach in the first place? These recurring questions are always in the background of any religious discourse.
As C.S. Lewis said about humility, it impossible to consider oneself humble without blowing your cover. Likewise, it is impossible to note and condemn the self righteousness, inconsistencies, and biases of someone else without exposing your own self righteousness, inconsistencies, and biases.
To even consider the idea that I cannot use guilt as a way of manipulate others into accepting my concept of proper behavior challenges much that we read, especially in the realm of religion and politics. What are writers who espouse a certain doctrine or policy trying to do other than vent our spleens? If minds and hearts are not changed for the better (better peace, joy, and purpose) by these writings, why waste the time and words and expose myself to well deserved reciprocal criticism? Is expressing my opinion on any subject, more than a waste, an actual mistake? And what is the alternative to expressing oneself in some fashion on personal beliefs? Do I remain mute on every subject just to avoid exposing my own failings?
These questions are complex and troubling to many of us I would bet. Silence is so often taken to mean agreement with the opinions and beliefs which others do express openly. Additionally, those that do express themselves are reinforced in the weight of their opinions by a general silence on the matter. That silence means counter balancing opinions never get to compete on a rational basis. It is the old saying- the squeaky wheel gets the grease. In the realm of public opinion, be it religion or politics, those who make all the noise get all the attention and dominate the debate.
So those of a different opinion are left to struggle with whether to open up and risk ridicule and return criticism, or just go along to get along and effectively be cowed into silence by what may well be a loud minority. That is effectively where many of us are.
Strongly held beliefs need to be presented in a way that leaves room for people to disagree. Claiming some irrefutable basis for those beliefs means denying others the right to disagree. Properly, anything I say on any subject can and should be taken as a subject for thoughtful consideration and not as irrefutable truth. I remind the readers of this fact so I can remind myself.