Saturday, 4 January 2014

The Ethic of Reciprocity - Hugh Mackay

You may have heard use of the expression the Golden Rule used just about anywhere. But it primarily refers to the Ethic of Reciprocity:
  • we should treat others as we would like others to treat ourselves.
So why should we obey the golden rule? The author of 'The Good Life', Hugh Mackay, puts it this way. We are social creatures who depend on communities to sustain us. Communities don't happen by accident, we have to build and nurture them, and treating others with kindness and respect is the best way to achieve that. (The Australian, Sept 7, 2013)

A few days ago, I heard an interview with Mackay where he discussed this ethic and crystallised perhaps the core problem of Australian politics. Who has not been appalled at the way most of our National leaders persistently sling off at and insult each other in parliament, and in the public media? In regard the important matters of where Australia is going or being led, these displays by our leaders have numbed us onto an the emotional spectrum from despair to apathy.

Such consistent bad behaviour from senior politicians creates voter distrust and ‘tuning out’. With some exceptions, usually outside the two major parties, we rarely observe our leaders engaging deeply and honestly.

It has been argued that politicians are happy for us to tune out, not enrol or turn up to vote, so they get a licence to get away with whatever they like. Yet history shows that disrespect of citizens can lead to varying degrees of revolution. I think most of us would rather not have a violent revolution, but rather see steady progress to a sustainable and fair society.

It would seem that this would require those with power being kinder to those without power. The enormously wealthy citizens supporting and respecting those without.  The view that poor people are bludgers, misunderstands human nature. Truly poor people would love the chance to be self-sufficient, but often they may need years of help to obtain training, self-esteem and a spiritual connection.
Hugh Makay
We need to be civil to those we know and those we don’t, such as other road users, refugees and any citizen of the world and even politicians. How do we treat each other with respect?  A key first step is truly listening to each other. That is the kind of listening where you take time to absorb what they say and what is occurring in the life of that person before responding.

I'm cautious that our leaders may try to appear as if they are listening, without truly connecting with other people, their views and problems.

Now should be the time we take on for ourselves the work of Nelson Mandela and show compassion and respect for your enemies so we can move forward together, not fight each other.