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.