Sometimes, we take simple things for granted. We've got religions with commandments and thousands of laws written, yet consistently applying the ethic of reciprocity would encapsulate all of that. Whether you raise your child christian, pagan, or atheist... teaching a child the Golden Rule would be the only moral compass needed to see how being a cheat, hypocrite, killer, or thief is wrong.
This discussion gets interesting when you bring it into the adult world where money, power, and politics enter the equation for individual decisions. Crafty adults bend a "do unto others" justification around what they seek for personal gain. These explanations always bastardize the Golden Rule, ignoring the fact that preferences aren't universal. All people are different. For this reason, the Golden Rule is first and foremost an ethic of individual rights.
- A drug prohibitionist says "Make drugs illegal because I'd want people to stop me from doing drugs.". What does the drug prohibitionist say when his cheeseburgers are restricted by a vegan?
- A socialist who says "We need to take from the rich, and give to the poor". What does the socialist say when his home is robbed by someone poorer than them?
- A neo-conservative says "We need to occupy Iraq, because ...
". What does the neo-conservative say when his homeland is invaded and occupied by another country?