The Platinum Rule

We’ve all heard the Golden Rule: “Treat others the way you want to be treated.” While that rule is a good start, I’ve always been a bigger fan of the Platinum Rule: “Treat others the way they want to be treated.”

heart-1567215_960_720Living life by the Platinum Rule means setting aside my own preconceived ideas for what others need and want. It forces me to stop and listen, to put aside my own life experience and allow others to fully live out their own life experience.

When I treat others the way they want to be treated, I put aside my notions of historical significance to manmade objects and listen to how people feel when they see oppression objectified.

When I treat others the way they want to be treated, I put aside my own reality of comfort and safety and listen to how people feel unsafe walking in their neighborhoods, driving on the other side of town, living their daily lives.

When I treat others the way they want to be treated, I put aside an ideal that learning a new language is an easy thing and I listen to stories of learning three or four other languages before tackling English.

When I treat others the way they want to be treated, I recognize that my marriage and family fit into societal norms and I listen to the heartbreak of families not recognized by their churches and faith communities.

There’s been a lot in the news the past couple days about how we want others to live their lives – from the distribution of resources in a crises to the way we choose to interpret the Bible that cuts out whole sections of the population, we are living the way we want to be treated. My rights are so rarely infringed upon that I can easily treat others how I want to be treated because society treats me pretty well.

But when I treat others how they want to be treated, that can make me uncomfortable. It can force me to recognize that my neighbors want to be treated with dignity because their rights are often diminished. It forces me to recognize that my LGBTQ friends want to worship without condemnation because they are so often shut out of the community of God. It forces me to recognize that our system is built on a history of racism and oppression and that I have both directly and indirectly benefited from this.

Treating others the way they want to be treated doesn’t make me less than. Building others up and honoring their experiences doesn’t diminish my own or rewrite history. I think about the way Jesus lead by example, how time and again he treated the “other” with dignity and respect. He didn’t treat them the way society demanded but with grace and love. How can I do any less?

How do you honor those whose experiences are different from your own? What are some ways you’ve learned to listen to the experiences of others?

Review: Pursuing Justice by Ken Wytsma

Sometimes, when injustice in the world feels overwhelming, I think, At least I’m not actively part of the problem. I don’t support modern slavery or racism. I try to read labels and buy sustainably. Is that enough, though? Just because I’m not actually hurting someone, does that mean I’m helping to bring justice to the powerless?

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In Pursuing Justice: The Call to Live & Die for Bigger Things, Ken Wytsma calls this thinking the silver rule: “Do not do unto others as you would not have them do unto you” (184). He argues that we have twisted the Golden Rule to something less – that as long as we are not actively harming anyone, it’s fine. In reality, justice calls us to love, sacrifice, initiate, speak up, and create change (192).

Throughout the book, Wytsma questions Christian apathy toward loving our neighbors and doing justice. He cites many verses in the Bible that call believers to act out their faith – that without clothing the least of these, we are not bringing about Kingdom changes. The main theme of this book is that without living out justice and reconciliation for the most vulnerable, Christians are completely missing the point of Jesus’ message.

Pursuing Justice is a good balance of life stories and practical advice. Wytsma cites examples in the Bible of how justice is commanded and gives actual stories of people living out these commands.

I had only two criticisms: In Chapter 11, Wystma talks about a life-changing book that got him on the path of justice, yet he never shares the title of that book. I looked in the notes, but could find nothing. My other pet peeve was the constant translation of Greek and Hebrew words. Sometimes the translation was helpful, but mostly it was distracting from the message.

I feel like this would be a good book for a wide spectrum of readers. For those who are interested in justice, but don’t know where to begin, Wytsma gives encouragement, resources, and help in getting started. For those who are immersed in justice work, this book would be a good source of what others are doing. Wytsma has years of experience and resources that those in that world would find relatable.

Especially in light of the past few months, when justice seems unattainable, this book gave hope for a world redeemed by justice.

Gardening, Teaching, Protesting, Financial Giving… There are many ways to support justice. How do you actively seek justice? Or, where would you like to begin?

GIVEAWAY! I am giving away my copy of Pursuing Justice. To enter, leave a comment about how you are pursuing justice in your world. I’ll randomly select a winner on Friday, October 17, 2014. (United States addresses only.)

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I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.