Counteracting Prejudice with the Golden Rule Truth

By Marjorie Foerster Eddington

There’s a lot of prejudice circling around today, a lot of hate for those who believe in God, a lot of violence—which seem to be tolerated and fostered, even on college campuses.

So what can you, as a teenager, do about it? First off, don’t we have to be aware of what’s wrong and recognize it for what it is? The reason Eve and Adam were tricked by the serpent-like creature was because they didn’t really see the serpent for what it was—a liar. Instead, they fell for its deception. The serpent didn’t say that the fruit of the tree would hurt them; rather, it would make them wise. So we need to stand guard.

Evil tries to come into our lives sounding like good. This has been true throughout history. Many of the awful dictators, tyrants, as well as groups and gangs, have come into power by promising good things. So people believed them and then were tricked, hurt, ruined, etc. But a lie only has the power that we give it. We certainly don’t want to base our thoughts, beliefs, words, and actions on lies. A lie self-destructs by its own falsity; we don’t want to self-destruct with it.

So, our best self-defense and preservation require us to become good lie detectors and powerful truth tellers. We can refuse to be tricked into believing something false about others. If it puts others down in order to rise above them, if it’s based on rumors or fear, if it causes division or incites hatred, then it’s usually based on lies. So we can refuse to give a lie power by acting upon it, by spreading rumors, by joining up with other groups that promote violence and hatred toward others. Rather, we can help to stop prejudice and hatred towards groups and people by searching for and unveiling the truth, declaring and spreading the truth.

And we can go a step further. We can practice what Jesus told us in the Sermon on the Mount: “I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless those that curse you, do good to those that hate you, and pray for those who speak evil about you, and persecute you” (Matt 5:44 JUB). Jesus didn’t say this would be easy. He just told us to do it!

He also gave us the Golden Rule: “Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: “Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them” (The Message, Matt 7:12). In each situation, before we speak or act, we check our thinking.

  • How would I like to be treated?
  • What would I like someone to say about me?
  • If I had done that, what must I have been thinking or feeling?
  • If I were feeling that way, what would I need to feel better?
  • How can I make repairs and move forward with grace and kindness?

We all want to be loved, to be given second and 100th chances, to feel appreciated, to be understood, to be heard and recognized for who we are. So then, that’s what we do for others. We actively go out and practice good. We praise those who talk down to us. We’re kind to those who are mean to us or to our friends. But this does not mean that we’re ok with hateful, prejudiced, or violent actions or words from others. We’re not. But we won’t take the bait. We won’t accept or tolerate the lies. We won’t spread falsehoods or be tricked by something that sounds good but isn’t. We will stand firm for truth.

Jesus said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32 CEV). And the truth, the real truth, is Love! So we will speak the truth of Love. We will bless the world with Love. And we will be free.