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The Golden Rule is the principle of treating others as one would expect to be treated themselves. Various expressions of this rule can be found in the tenets of most religions and creeds through the ages. It can be considered an ethic of reciprocity in some religions, although different religions treat it differently.
The maxim may appear as a positive or negative injunction governing conduct:
- Treat others as you would like others to treat you (positive or directive form)
- Do not treat others in ways that you would not like to be treated (negative or prohibitive form)
- What you wish upon others, you wish upon yourself (empathetic or responsive form)
The idea dates at least to the early Confucian times (551–479 BCE), according to Rushworth Kidder, who identifies the concept appearing prominently in Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Taoism, Zoroastrianism, and "the rest of the world's major religions". As part of the 1993 "Declaration Toward a Global Ethic", 143 leaders of the world's major faiths endorsed the Golden Rule. This idea also applies to what Jesus taught in Christianity, as recorded in the New Testament of the Bible, in the section called Matthew chapter 7. According to Greg M. Epstein, it is "a concept that essentially no religion misses entirely", but belief in God is not necessary to endorse it. Simon Blackburn also states that the Golden Rule can be "found in some form in almost every ethical tradition".