We have laws and customs and some things that horrify us from the past, such as slavery, were once considered perfectly normal. So how can I say there is a universal standard of morality?
In some nations, adulterers are still beheaded and their societies think that’s O.K. As recently as the 1970s, homosexuality was considered a perversion and listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual as a mental illness, but now we are outraged at people who think that, because we are now so enlightened. So how can I say there is a universal standard of morality?
When the Japanese first bombed civilians in China, the world was horrified at such brutality, but now bombing people has become socially acceptable, so how can I say there is a universal standard for morality?
I can say that because 96% of human beings have a concept of fairness (the other 4% are sociopaths and have no such concept) That concept of fairness has never been better summarized than this: “Treat others the way you want to be treated.” Jesus said it in a positive way, but many other had said it before him as an admonition,”Do not do to others that which you would hate.”
To treat others as you want to be treated eliminates slavery, as the Quakers pointed out, because I would not want to be a slave. It eliminates killing adulterers and stigmatizing gay people, too. It also condemns bombing civilians, unless being bombed is something you would enjoy.
There are over 600 laws in the Old Testament, few of which are followed. God only knows how many laws have been passed around the world to get people to behave, and they do not work very well, do they?
But “Treat others as you want to be treated” has no loopholes. None. It applies to all situations. Every one.
Perhaps we can’t do much to change the course of the whole world, but we can do something to become better people.
We can treat others as we want to be treated. And we can start right now.
And if 96% of us do that, it will change the course of the whole world.