This story about old uncle Al who lives in a mansion outside of town.
He owns the valuable mansion outright, but has little else in the way of assets and income.
He proposes a deal. If you will provide him with money to live on, a percentage of your wages, you will be allowed to move into the mansion when you retire and he will leave the grand old house to you.
It seems like a good arrangement.
The cash for your uncle -- 11.7 percent of your wages -- takes a pretty big chunk out of your paycheck. But you're glad to know that you're ensuring the economic security of your older kin.
In return you have received a sacred promise that you, too, will have economic security in your retirement years.
For years the arrangement goes smoothly. Eventually your uncle discovers that the pipes in the basement of the mansion need to be replaced, and you increase your payments to 15.3 percent.
Your contributions to your uncle's care now take a bigger chunk of your wages than even income tax does, but you still consider this a wise investment in both your uncle's well-being and your own future security.
Then one day you receive a letter from your uncle.
He confesses that he never actually had the pipes in the basement repaired. The resulting water damage has rendered the building unlivable and it has been condemned. He also tells you that he no longer owns the mansion.
It was repossessed after he defaulted on the second and third mortgages he had taken out on the mansion. The cash from that refinancing is all gone , used to pay his for lavish expenses while he squandered all the payments you had been sending on gifts and parties for his rich friends.
Your uncle thanks you for looking after him all those years and tells you not to worry about him -- he's moved into the mansion of one of those rich friends who's arranged for him to live well for the rest of his days.
I've been thinking about this issue. I am not well informed and need to read more about it. But, I do have these thoughts and questions.
1. One man, one woman is NOT the definition of marriage. What about Mormons, Harems, tribal customs?
2. What is the definition of man and woman? Reading this weeks Time magazine about intersexuals, as much as 2% of people are not physically or chromosomally either sex. What about transgendered people? Will there have to be a physical examination before issuing a marriage license?
3. Why can't issues of hospital visitation and other institutional protocol be handled with modification of existing policies. Ditto with insurance, health care proxies, etc.
4. Issues of inheritance, adoption, etc. could be resolved with legislation.
5. It seems reasonable to me that same sex couples should be allow civil unions that give all the rights and privileges of marriage. That solves the legal issues. If a same sex couple want a religious ceremony, which is what 'marriage' to Bush and the religious right mean by marriage, let the same sex couple fend for themselves. Some religious group might do it, some might not.
6. As an ordained minister of the Universal Life Church, I'd be happy to conduct a marriage ceremony for anyone who asks. Well, almost anyone.
If the single common thread through all world religions is the Golden Rule,
Christianity All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye so to them; for this is the law and the prophets. Matthew 7:1
Confucianism Do not do to others what you would not like yourself. Then there will be no resentment against you, either in the family or in the state. Analects 12:2
Buddhism Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful. Udana-Varga 5,1
Hinduism This is the sum of duty; do naught onto others what you would not have them do unto you. Mahabharata 5,1517
Islam No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself. Sunnah
Judaism What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellowman. This is the entire Law; all the rest is commentary. Talmud, Shabbat 3id
Taoism Regard your neighbor’s gain as your gain, and your neighbor’s loss as your own loss. Tai Shang Kan Yin P’ien
Zoroastrianism That nature alone is good which refrains from doing another whatsoever is not good for itself. Dadisten-I-dinik, 94,5
What are we to think then of the Platinum Rule-- “Do unto others as they would have you do unto them.”?
"I think the Golden Rule, while well intentioned, is very misguided and leads to tremendous amount of misunderstandings. When those misunderstandings occur, the well intentioned person cannot understand where they went wrong."
Let's see. Give Hitler Poland. He wants it. Or, run my ass off driving my daughter anywhere she wants to go, anytime she wants to go there. She wants it. How about letting the butcher thumb the scale to trick me into overpaying? He wants it.
I think the Platinum Rule is only so much psychobabble tarted up like EST or Scientology, a feel-good, New-Age pseudo-psychcology designed to get TV motivational speakers rich.
But, I could be wrong. Someone please explain it to me.
Philosopher Chistopher Phillips travels the world leading discussion groups he calls Socrates Cafes meant to engage groups of people in the manner of the ancient Greek philosopher.
Phillips fears that the kind of conversation most of us experience -- browbeating, talking through one another -- is literally destroying America. He proposes to revive a kind of anti-guru philosophy in which the questions are more important than the answers.