Sunday, June 01, 2008

Universal rules

The golden rule--do unto others yada yada yada--is purported to be universal in human cultures. Assuming that is true, why is that?

Some people say it's evidence of a divine hand guiding human philosophy. Others say it's evolutionary adaptation. I hate to break it to both of these camps, but the true reason the golden rule is universal is much more mundane.

Every human culture has at least one thing in common--kids. Wherever we go, we breed. Or at least some of us do. Not only do we breed, but we breed in numbers. Except for pointy-headed academics, families always have more than one kid. And kids are why we all observe the golden rule. At any randomly chosen time, all over the world, there are parents saying to their kids, "Stop hitting your sister. How would you like it if she did that to you?" or "Give that back to your brother. You wouldn't like it if he took your things!"

We don't say these things because we fervently believe them. We don't say them because we want our kids to grow up and be moral people. No, we say these things because we want some quiet. We want to get through dinner without screaming and yelling. We want to have a bit of peace in the middle of the day. We just want to be able to think goddammit.

However else we dress up religion and try to make it transcendant, this is what it comes down to. It's what parents did before television in order to get some peace.

1 comment:

Eric said...

Damn, Ed -- Max & Nora givin' you grief lately? :-)

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