June 4, 2001

The Golden Rule Principle: Global Religious Leaders Called to Refocus on this Universal Objective of the Interfaith Community

A Call to Action by Stephen M. Apatow, President and Founder of Humanitarian Resource Institute.
Each day in the developing world, 30,500 children die from preventable diseases such as diarrhea, acute respiratory infections or malaria. Malnutrition is associated with over half of those deaths. (UNICEF, World Health Organization)

In developing countries, one child in 10 dies before his fifth birthday. By comparison, in the United States one child in 165 will die before turning five years old. (UNICEF).

Almost 800 million people—about one-sixth of the population of the world's developing nations—are  malnourished. 200 million of them are children. (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations)

In the last 50 years, almost 400 million people worldwide have died from hunger and poor sanitation, according to the report. That's three times the number of people killed in all wars fought in the entire 20th century. (BFWI)

Virtually every country in the world has the potential of growing sufficient food on a sustainable basis. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has set the minimum requirement for caloric intake per person per day at 2350. Worldwide, there are 2720 calories available per person per day. Over 50 countries fall below that requirement; they do not produce enough food to feed their populations, nor are they able to afford to import the necessary commodities to make up the gap. Most of these countries are in sub-Saharan Africa.

The wealthiest fifth of the world's people consume an astonishing 86 percent of all goods and services, while the poorest fifth consumes one-percent.

32 percent of the population in the developing world live below $1 per day (WDI). 2.6 billion people lack access to basic sanitation (UNICEF).

880 million people lack access to adequate health services.

--Statistics: Bread for the World Institute for Hunger and Development

In the United States requests for emergency food jumped 17% in 2000, while need for emergency shelter climbed 15%. The increases in demand for both services were among the highest the survey has recorded in the past decade.  62% of people requesting food were from families, and 32% were employed.   About 13% of requests for food were unmet; 23% of requests for shelter were unmet. (2000 US Conference of Mayors Hunger and Homelessness in American Cities Survey)

There are 1.3 million runaway and homeless youth in the United States. 5,000 runaway and homeless youth die each year of assault, disease, and suicide.  (National Runaway Switchboard Statistics)


The golden rule as endorsed by all the great world religions is best interpreted as saying: "Treat others only in ways that you're willing to be treated in the same exact situation." To apply it, you'd imagine yourself in the exact place of the other person on the receiving end of the action. If you act in a given way toward another, and yet are unwilling to be treated that way in the same circumstances, then you violate the rule. 

The golden rule, with roots in a wide range of world cultures, is well suited to be a standard to which different cultures could appeal in resolving conflicts. As the world becomes more and more a single interacting global community, the need for such a common standard is becoming more urgent. - Gensler, Blackwell Dictionary of Business Ethics

In the light of growing global humanitarian needs, Stephen M. Apatow, founder of Humanitarian Resource Institute is making an international appeal for religious leaders to refocus on "The Golden Rule Principle," as the most significant objective and message for their faith communities.

The Golden Rule Principle:

Christianity: "So in everything, do to others, what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the law and the prophets" -- New Testament: MT 7:12 NIV

Buddhism: Treat not others in ways that yourself would find hurtful.-- Udana-Varga 5.18

Baha'i: Lay not on any soul a load that you would not wish to be laid upon you, and desire not for anyone the things you would not desire for yourself. -- Baha'u'llah Gleanings

Confucianism: One word which sums up the basis for all good conduct...loving kindness. Do not do to others what you would not want done to yourself. -- Confucious Analects 15:23

Hinduism: This is the sum of duty: do not do to others what would cause pain if done to you. -- Mahabharata 5:1517

Islam: Not one of you truly believes until you wish for others what you wish for yourself.  -- The Prophet Mohammed, Hadith

Judaism:  What is hateful to you do not do to your neighbor. This is the whole torah; all the rest is commentary.  -- Hillel, Talmad, Shabbat 31a

Native Spirituality: We are as much alive as we keep the earth alive. -- Chief Dan George

 Janism: One should treat all creatures in the world as one would like to be treated. -- Mahavira, Sutravitanga

Sikhism:  I am no stranger to no one; an no one is a stranger to me. Indeed, I am a friend to all. -- Guru Granth Sahib, pg.1299

Taoism: Regard your neighbor's gain as your own gain, and your neighbors loss as your own loss.--  T'ai Shang Kan Ying P'ien, 213-218

Unitarianism: We affirm and promote respect for the interdependent of all existence of which we are a part.  -- Unitarian principle

Zoroastrianism: Do not unto others what is injurious to yourself. -- Shayast-na-Shayast 13.29

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