Flip it and Reverse it

Over the years I continue to look at the world through an ethical lens, it’s unavoidable after 5 years of morality, ethics, law, and theological lectures.

Often people complain today on social media about how this person said this, or this person did that. It is a remarkable equalizer in terms of social justice with corporate PR Teams often themselves in the news frantically responding to a tweet which went uncontrollably viral and permeated the various app feeds of every 15 – 35 year old in the developed world.

It’s as though now we can say, finally, don’t treat me badly or you will be the one in the spotlight. And it will hit you hardest where it hurts, in your pocketbook from a tarnished reputation.

Could this be avoided if people were to follow the “Golden Rule” – do unto others as you would have done unto you. The thought often arises, if an individual said today, I don’t treat people that way and so I do not expect to be treated that way, what could they really do. People have a remarkable tool now in the Internet, to respond in the court of public opinion and marketplace to say “Hey, enough!” Using a tool which has established itself as the means of communication, people today can affect change in ways never before imagined.

The other side of social media and a connected world devoid of personal relationships or relationships strained by time online is that people, at least I find, are increasingly rude and intolerant. Everyone has a microphone and freedom to shout over Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat etc. etc. etc. Online bullying is a very real issue in schools today.

For many, living life with the expectation of being treated how they themselves have treated others is just the normal way of making decisions. Can we say though, without lowering ourselves to “their” level, I will treat others how I have been treated?

If people continually live with the Golden Rule, or as found in many ethical tenants some close variation, then surely how a person has been treated by someone is in fact what they want in return, for good or bad. Some might say, well I am not myself someone who follows the Golden Rule and so treat me well. What they are really saying is I want to be free from consequences my actions may cause. It is one thing to behave a certain way and expect to be treated that way in return. It is outlandish to think unwelcome behaviour would be treated well in return. Is it not? Clearly, there are many who would say, “forgive”, “turn the other cheek”, “get over it”, and they may in fact interestingly be those who live strongest by the Golden Rule.

It’s a complex dilemma for sure. If we “Flip it and Reverse it” to take Missy Elliott’s terminology, on the left hand we have nothing in return for unwelcome behaviour which we have forgiven. On the right hand, we have change through activism and progress. Change based not on benign neglect of social justice concerns, but on expectations of a better world and social environments free of hate and intolerance.

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