Welcome to Golden Rule Activism!

This is a little blog I’ve created to express some thoughts that I’ve been longing to share with others. I don’t know what will happen over time with it, and I imagine that posts will probably end up covering a wide range of topics. However, I envision it centering mainly around three broad themes, which I’ll call here the foundation, the situation, and the call to activism.

The foundation I have in mind is love—rooted in a wholly loving God who calls upon us to love both our “neighbors” and our “enemies” with a boundless, unconditional love. I am a teacher of a spiritual path called A Course in Miracles and a follower of the historical Jesus (as he’s being slowly uncovered by modern Jesus scholars), and I believe that this love is at the heart of both. Indeed, I believe this love is the heart of reality itself, which to me means that it is available to everyone, whatever his or her spiritual tradition (or lack of a spiritual tradition—atheists are most welcome!). I don’t have a religious axe to grind. But the teachings of Jesus, whom I believe both gave us a radical vision of love two thousand years ago and authored A Course in Miracles, are my touchstone.

The situation I have in mind is the disturbing advent of the Donald Trump presidential administration. I am becoming increasingly convinced that we are in real danger of sinking into a fascist dictatorship, and that the consequences of this for human beings all over the world will be horrific. I understand that the phrase “fascist dictatorship” is extreme, and I hope that things will not descend to that level. But many rational, sober-minded people are seeing this danger—this is not the stuff of wild conspiracy theories—and I think it’s something we need to face squarely.

This is why I feel a call to activism. Now, I have to confess, I haven’t been much of an activist up to now. Sure, I’ve done some small things: worked for the John Kerry presidential campaign, attended some rallies, signed petitions, called my representatives in Congress, and the like. Now I live in Mexico, and though I have participated in some activist work here, I’m not sure what exactly I can do from a distance regarding the situation in the US. And my inclination is less toward things like protest marches (though those may be included) and more toward humanitarian intervention on behalf of marginalized people. All that being said, given the danger I see, I’m feeling the call to do much more than I have before. It feels like one of those moments about which people in the future will ask, “What did you do for the resistance?” I feel like I need to take a stand.

Of course, there are so many different ways to be an activist. But what I have mainly in mind right now is standing up in some way for those people who are being especially marginalized and endangered by the Trump administration. I’m especially interested in taking action on behalf of Latin American immigrants in the United States—not because other groups (Muslims, for example) are not important to me, but because I live in Mexico with a Mexican migrant-rights activist partner, so this particular issue is very personal to me.

All of which leads to the title of my blog: “Golden Rule Activism.” The Golden Rule, of course, is Jesus’ injunction (also appearing in some form in most of the world’s great religions) to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. I believe that there is a profound truth implicit in this famous injunction: All human beings are equally important, equally precious, equally worthy of love. Because this is so, we are called not to play the usual game of using other human beings as means to our ends; rather, we are called to see them all as ends in themselves, as we are. And the way this looks in daily life is precisely the Golden Rule: We treat our equal brothers and sisters with the same love, compassion, and consideration that we want them to give to us.

Golden Rule activism, then, is activism that is guided by this principle. This feels vitally important to me. My experience with activism is that often people get so bogged down in the complexities of various issues (and most issues are complex—Trump learned that the hard way with health care) that they forget that what’s most important is how our decisions on these issues impact the lives of real, flesh-and-blood human beings. Frankly, I think that on a nuts-and-bolts detail level, most of the issues we contend with each other about don’t have easy answers. But I’m convinced that if we keep that human element ever before our eyes, we are much more likely to come up with answers that are truly helpful to everyone.

So, for instance, when I approach the complex issue of immigration from the perspective of Golden Rule activism, I say to myself: “Everyone involved in this issue—including both immigrants and those who for whatever reason oppose immigrants—is a precious human being whom I love as I want to be loved. Given that, what solutions to the problems that face us here are the most loving to all concerned?” Now, this doesn’t lead to magically finding the perfect solution. There’s no quick fix; finding solutions to our problems is a process that I think never really stops. But while problems are usually complex on a concrete detail level, I think the “first principles” that should guide our decisions are often quite simple. And I think the first principle of love embodied in the Golden Rule is a moral compass that will consistently point us in the right direction.

Again, I think I’ll end up covering a wide range of topics. But these are the issues that have prompted me to start this blog. I’m hoping that the very process of writing it will help me to become clearer what specific forms of activism I’m called to do, so I can get off the sidelines and get to work. And I’m hoping that you will find what I say here worthwhile reading and that it inspires you in some way to do some Golden Rule activism yourself.

P.S. If you want some sense of where I’m coming from and the kind of person I aspire to be (however much I fall short of that), watch this video of Father Gregory Boyle, a beautiful man who has dedicated his life to bringing love and healing to gang members in Los Angeles: Compassion and Kinship.

8 Replies to “Welcome to Golden Rule Activism!”

  1. Felicidades, my beloved Greg!

    And thank you very much for giving us a space where we can share ideas and concerns about how to apply the golden rule to our activism. Being involved in the defense of migrants’ human rights for many years, I personally needed an initiative like this to help me in my attempt to be consistent between my talk and my walk. And here it is!

    Con amor y esperanza,

    Patricia

  2. Thank so much, Greg, for expatiating on Golden Rule activism; I look forward to the next installments! I love what the Course has to say about the Golden Rule as a categorical imperative for being in the world. You’ve applied it to the pragmatic level of political activism, and I’ve intensified my conscious practice of it after talking with you about how we can use it effectively in response to the call of nonviolent protest against the many threats to our republic and to the Constitution upon which it is founded. I’m grateful to share this journey with you and with the millions of mighty companions around the world with whom we are joined with in loving and peaceful protest. Linda

  3. Thank you so much for taking this step towards arriving at an activism that will help us ‘solve’ a problem, rather than becoming a part of the problem. That is my wish for my action in favour of the issues that I see that ask me to ‘stand up.’ I look forward to really informing my desire to help, so that it does help.

  4. Really clear explanation of where you are coming from in creating this blog, Greg. I applaud you. I also wish you were in charge.

    I think you are dead right when you say It feels like one of those moments about which people in the future will ask, “What did you do for the resistance?”

    Power to your elbow, mate

  5. Greg, I really enjoyed reading this. You’re drawing upon simple, universal principles to stake out an alternative position in the face of an unfolding national crisis, a position that seems noticeably different than the options I see out there on the national stage. I don’t know where you are going with this, but I’m looking forward to it! Maybe this can be a space where a lot of us can turn to hear the messages we long to hear on the news but never seem to.

  6. Thank you so much for all of your kind words, everyone! I’m very much looking forward to doing this. I’m not really sure where it’s all going to lead, but it feels good to take a few steps in the direction of being truly helpful in the difficult times we’re in. I hope that together we can all discover a better way!

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