Happy Mother’s Day to all of you and your families – and especially to my own mom, whose guidelines for living are the subject of this Mother’s Day column I wrote for today’s Ledger-Enquirer.
A footnote: This morning I caught the last half of an interesting radio interview with Karen Armstrong, a former nun turned scholar of world religions and author of "A History of God," among other books. You can listen to it at the Speaking of Faith Web site. She referred to that same simple golden rule (which we teach children but too often forget as adults – and which was a central tenet in my mom’s unofficial guidelines for living) a couple times in the course of the interview. She recounts a story of “Rabbi Hillel, the older contemporary of Jesus who'd been approached by a bunch of pagans who said they would convert to Judaism if Hillel could recite the entire Torah while he stood on one leg. And Hillel stood on one leg and said, ‘Do not do unto others what you would not have done unto you. That is the Torah, the rest is commentary. Go and learn it.’” And she later adds that Jesus himself “teaches a version of Hillel's golden rule, but He says, ‘Do unto others as you would have done unto you.’” Armstrong returns repeatedly to compassion as a core virtue across religions and says at one point “Our future depends on learning to listen.” Compassion, she says “means ‘to feel with.’ Not to feel sorry for, but to say, ‘If I were in his position, maybe I would feel the same.’” So there you are: If a rule is golden enough to reach across religions it must be worth teaching to your children and relearning yourself.