The Golden Rule is Not About Being Nice

By | August 26, 2022

[August 26, 2022]  The Golden Rule is often read as being nice to other people.  We see this important rule expressed in religion and philosophical texts throughout history.  Here is a shock.  This rule does not mean being nice; it doesn’t mean that even a little bit.  It doesn’t mean treating others with kindness and compassion.  The rule also doesn’t mean sacrificing for other people.

The Golden Rule means something like this.  Conceptualize how things could be great if they were great for you, and for your family, and for your community.  And envision this across time, not just today or next week, but for the next year or five years.  Take proper care of yourself in this way and for others and into the future, and then work to make that the case for everyone else.

“Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them; for this is the law and the prophets.” Matthew 7:12 (KJV)

Treat yourself properly.  That’s hard to do because you’re a fallen, shameful, cowardly, deceitful, malevolent, mortal creature.  And, it’s not easy, and you know it, and it’s not easy to treat something like that properly.  It’s not apparent that people treat themselves better than they treat other people.

Maybe you could start thinking, “Okay, I’m going to take care of myself, as if I have value.”  What would that look like?  And then, I will work to extend that courtesy to everyone else.  Dr. Jordan Peterson puts it a slightly different way.  He hypothesizes that if you take all of the moral wisdom that humanity has generated over its many centuries of struggle that manifests itself in stories and into law and if you picked one principle that dominated all of that.  This Golden Rule would be that principle.

Another way to put this idea or maxim is to imagine yourself optimizing your own mode of being and then working to do the same for everyone around you.  The Golden Rule means to think of the other person as if they were you and figure out how you could mutually interact to better both of you simultaneously.

People believe the Golden Rule is simply being nice and compassionate to others.  This is wrong.  It is treating others with the knowledge that what is good is based on moral principles and not on feelings.


Please read my new book, “Our Longest Year in Iraq,” on Amazon (link here).

Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I provide one article every day. My writings are influenced by great thinkers such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Jung, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Jean Piaget, Erich Neumann, and Jordan Peterson, whose insight and brilliance have gotten millions worldwide to think about improving ourselves. Thank you for reading my blog.

21 thoughts on “The Golden Rule is Not About Being Nice

  1. Bill Sanders, Jr.

    Just a note to Gen. Satterfield to say that I’m really enjoying his leadership blog.

  2. Dennis Mathes

    Another great article to make me THINK. Yeah. THINK. That is something our young people are not taught to do at all They are all about marching in lockstep with their “experts.”

  3. Idiot Savant

    “People believe the Golden Rule is simply being nice and compassionate to others. This is wrong. It is treating others with the knowledge that what is good is based on moral principles and not on feelings.” — Gen. Satterfield

    1. American Girl

      My favorite quote too. If you believe something is right, then you need to make sure your are interpreting what it means correctly. The Golden Rule is not always what it appears to be on the surface.

    1. Dale Paul Fox

      Yeah, me too. Hey Veronica, did you say your bought Gen. Satterfield’s book that was published on Amazon last year? If so, what did you think about it? I plan to order a copy. While I’m not so interested in the Iraq War, I am interested in what Gen. Satterfield says.

      1. Veronica Stillman

        Yes, Dale. I did buy his book, “Our Longest Year in Iraq.” I enjoyed it immensely. I would recommend it.

      2. Dead Pool Guy

        Just get the book. You will be pleased. There are a bunch of books on the Iraq War but this one by our very own Gen. Satterfield is one of the best. 😉

  4. Silly Man

    I just want to say that I continue to enjoy this leadership website. Keep up what u r doing, Gen. Satterfield. ✔

  5. osmodsann

    Another on-target article by Gen. S. and his thinking is once again illuminating to those like me. Every time I read an article, I think to myself, “wow, I never thought of it that way.” Keep up the great works you are doing Gen. S. and we love what you are doing.

    1. Janna Faulkner

      Right osmodsann. Big fan here. And I just bought his Gen. Satterfield’s book “Our LOngest Year in Iraq.” Read it now twice. Good read. Highly recommended.

      1. Frankie Boy

        Janna, you’re spot on. Buy the book, ‘Our longest year in Iraq” and you will not be disappointed.

        1. osmodsann

          Thanks all for responding to my my mention that Gen. S. is giving us some great information and learning. You can’t learn a lot from reading but you can certainly learn a whole bunch of great stuff. Read this blog. Read Gen. S’s book on the Iraq War. Read read and read.

          1. Emma Archambeau

            Smile, you got it right …… ❤❤❤❤❤

  6. Tony Cappalo

    The Golden Rule, who would know? Gen. Satterfield makes the case that the Golden Rule is looked at too simply and wrong. Don’t tread everyone “nice.” That is not the way.

  7. Rowen Tabernackle

    Great article, Gen. Satterfield. We so often interpret things in the simplest terms and are often wrong for it.

    1. rjsmithers

      Yep, that’s why I read Gen. Satterfield’s leadership blog.

      1. ZB22

        That is also why I recommend that folks get Gen. Satterfield’s book on the Iraq War, titled “Our Longest Year in Iraq.” Great book. ❤


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