Golden Rule versions from the book The Golden Rule, by Ilene Cooper, and on Religious Tolerance.
Maya was eight years old. She had rules she had to follow all day long. At school there were special rules.
(Leader: Briefly ask the children for examples of school rules. Adapt the following sentence to reflect their contributions.)
At school Maya had to raise her hand if she wanted to talk. She could only eat if it was lunch or snack time. She needed a bathroom pass if she wanted to go to the bathroom. And, she was not allowed to copy anyone else's work.
Maya also had special rules at home.
(Leader: Briefly ask children for examples of rules at home. Adapt the following sentence to reflect their contributions.)
Maya had to go to bed at eight o'clock. She was never allowed to hit her younger brother (even if he hit her first). She had to eat her vegetables. And, she could only watch television for half an hour every day.
There were also special rules at church.
(Leader: Briefly ask children for examples of rules in your congregation. Adapt the following sentence to reflect your congregation.)
At church, Maya was not allowed to run during coffee hour. She had to talk in an indoor voice. And, she was expected to be friendly and welcoming to everyone. Maya was sick and tired of all those rules! One day, she decided she wanted to find just one rule to follow—one very important rule, to take the place of all of those other rules.
Maya asked her Uncle Guna what he thought was the most important rule of all. He told her that in his religion, Hinduism, it is said, "This is the sum of duty: to do nothing to others which would cause them pain."
(Leader: Briefly ask children what sorts of things someone would do if they follow this rule.)
Maya asked her next-door-neighbor, Claire, what she thought was the most important rule of all. Claire told Maya that a teacher from the Buddhist religion had taught her, "Do not do to others what would hurt you."
(Leader: Briefly ask children what sorts of things someone would do if they follow this rule. Note: It's okay if the children give the same responses they gave to the previous question.)
Maya asked her best friend, Adam, what he thought was the most important rule. Adam told her that at his Jewish synagogue he learned that Hebrew scripture teaches, "You shall love thy neighbor as thyself." Their friend, Maria, told Maya she learned the same rule at her Christian church.
Maya asked her friend, Malik, what he thought was the most important rule. Malik said that in his religion, Islam, people say, "None of you truly believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself."
Maya asked her Uncle Greg what he thought was the most important rule. Uncle Greg said that when he does pagan magic he always follows the rule, "An ye harm none, do what you will." He told Maya this means he cannot do anything that would hurt another living being.
Maya thought about all of the answers she had heard. She wrote them down, one at a time.
"This is the sum of duty: to do nothing to others which would cause them pain." (Hinduism)
"Do not do to others what would hurt you." (Buddhism)
"Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." (Jewish and Christian)
"None of you truly believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself." (Islam)
"An ye harm none, do what you will." (Neo-pagan)
On Sunday morning Maya took her list with her to her Unitarian Universalist congregation. She showed it to her minister, Rev. Marta. She asked Rev. Marta which rule she thought was most important.
Rev. Marta said, "I notice that these rules are all very similar. They are different versions of a rule some people call 'the Golden Rule.' What do you think is the most important rule?"
(Leader: Invite children to answer this question.)
Maya paused for a moment. Then she said slowly, "I think love is the Golden Rule. When we are loving, then we do not hurt other people or cause them pain, we wish for others what we wish for ourselves, and we love our neighbors as ourselves."
"That sounds like the most important rule to me!" Rev. Marta agreed. "Love is the Golden Rule!"
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Last updated on Tuesday, May 8, 2012.
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