It is an idea as old as the hills, and found in virtually every major religion. Confucius (551-479 BC) is believed to be the first to formulate it, in ‘negative form’:
Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself.
Confucius, Analects XV.24, translated by David Hinton
Half a millennium later the Jewish sage Hillel expressed much the same sentiment:
That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn.
Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 31a
In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.
Matthew 7:12. Bible, New Revised Standard Edition, OUP, 1989
So even if ‘any fool can make a rule, and any fool will mind it’ (Henry David Thoreau, 1817-1862), some impressively wise ones can put their hands up.
© Chris Lawrence 2018.
[Adapted from thinkingmakesitso, a blog of mine from 10 years ago!]