To repeat vocabulary, the golden rule is this: “All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.” Rendered in modern English, it is: “Every last thing you wish people would do to you, do exactly those things to them.” It is to be noted that “what you wish people would do to you” is a stricter standard than “what you find acceptable,” “what is fair,” or “what you can tolerate.”
Abuse is action having intent which deviates from the golden rule – it is to do to someone what you do not wish to be done to you. Synonyms for abuse are evil, wickedness, and so forth. Abusers are those who do not observe to keep the golden rule.
Faith is belief or trust, allowing someone into a position from which they have power to abuse you.
We come into this world with the golden rule written upon our consciences. It may be overridden by fear. Fear is, or can be, brought about by abuse, or anticipation of abuse. As we, from our childhood, begin to experience abuse, we begin to taste fear in anticipation of future abuse, which gives the devil power over us to tempt us to abuse others.
It is natural to wish to avoid abuse; abuse is, after all, something we don’t wish were done to us. Because of our fear of abuse, we typically adopt behavioral strategies to avoid it, which, over time, become habits. These strategies include preemptive abuse of those who may be in a position to abuse us, threatening abuse against those who may be in a position to abuse us, preemptive acquiescence to abusers so as to hopefully invoke the vestiges of the golden rule in their consciences and thus minimize or mitigate anticipated abuse, uniting with others so as to insulate one from abuse and increase one’s capacity to abuse or credibly threaten abuse, fleeing abuse, lying to perpetrate or avoid abuse, withholding substance except on exchange or acquiescence to other conditions, stealing, and so on.
Self-defense is permissible, and not mandated, upon the second consecutive offense against us, if we do not revile, neither seek revenge, against our abuser for the first offense. We are also able to answer the abuse of our family under the same conditions as offenses against us. Nations have a stricter standard for justification before God. (See D&C 98 for full details.)
This opens up a common avenue for perpetrating abuse – or, in other words, to seek power. It is to portray oneself or others as victims of abuse so as to appeal to the fears of a particular constituency (a person or a group) and gain their support, or to appeal to a vestige of the golden rule – the permissible duty to protect the community – that they may visit abuse upon a disfavored constituency accused of abuse, claiming self-defense therefrom. By offering to lessen, or cease, abuse of a desired constituency, or visit abuse upon the disfavored, power mongers thus gain the support of the favored constituency, insulating themselves from abuse and acquiring means to inflict it.
Reviling takes the form of propaganda against the disfavored constituency – they must be made to seem vile or else the conscience would rebel at abusing them – and trumpeting the accusations of abuse against them, so that proposals to abuse them will seem permissible. Proxies for victims or abusers may be used in propaganda to sway opinions for or against those parties; one need neither belong to a group which has suffered abuse, nor does one have to have been abused, neither does the target person or group have to have abused anyone – this is done by convincing others that their situation has been worsened, or others’ bettered, by abuse which nobody in either group need have been an actual party to (like, for example, black slavery).
Abusers typically come in the guise of liberators from abuse, or avengers of past abuse.
These patterns of seeking for power by exploiting claims of victimhood or abuse, playing on fear, reviling disfavored individuals or groups, and trumpeting a duty to protect the community as a call to action against the disfavored, can be seen all over the Book of Mormon, history books, today’s news, and in the recent “Skin in the Game” post. It is the same spirit that mocked, scorned, cast out, stoned, and slew the prophets, crying that they were the power-seeking abusers and that the community was justified in protecting itself from them.
Not only do these patterns of power-seeking abuse – and there are more – come from perverted appeals to the golden rule, but to suffer abuses of these types is the reason we are here in the first place.
Nobody likes to be dictated to – to be commanded against their will. Therefore the golden rule implies persuasion is the only power to be wielded, and the golden rule places strict constraints upon the conditions for persuasion, described in D&C 121.
God can’t make us keep the golden rule – and, in fact, he can’t simply say “I am God so you must believe and do what I say,” because nobody likes being dictated to (commands come to those who have covenanted to accept and obey them). We must keep the golden rule, however, if we are to live together, eternally, mutually indwelling, in perfect harmony, love, and joy, knowing all there is to know about one another because we know what each other feels and thinks, for we are to be one in all things, equal in power, might, glory, and authority. Therefore, God seeks to persuade us to keep the golden rule of our own free will and choice – which means we have to become acquainted with societies, orders, and relationships that fall short of it. So we abuse and are abused – we betray and suffer betrayal, we steal and are stolen from, we beat and are beaten, we withhold our substance except on exchange and are in our turn deprived of substance except on exchange, and so on. All of this is intended to persuade us to choose the good; we are intended to see that there is no other way to lasting peace and harmony.
Nevertheless, we can choose the evil if we wish; we can abuse others, offering whatever justification we like, or we can choose to abuse without bothering to justify ourselves. We can silence the messengers who bring us the glad tidings of salvation through Christ – or we can obey their teachings, repent of all abuse, forgive all men of all offenses, and call upon God in faith, confessing our abuses to him and to those we have abused, and trust him to deliver us from our abusers as we obey his great command.
Salvation, remember, is to be placed beyond the power of our enemies – those who claim we are indebted to them, who call for the right to punish us according to justice, or who want to abuse us because they hate us, believing we have betrayed them, and wish for us to suffer as they do. It is, after all, by the wicked that the wicked are punished, and it is God’s punishment to allow us to be in the power of our enemies, that they may wreak their vengeance upon us. In the end, what God does is revoke his blessings, withdraw his Spirit and his protections from us, and lets our enemies destroy us, both temporally and spiritually; that is terrible indeed.
Therefore, let us cease abusing one another. Let us lay down our swords of words, and stop looking to draw blood and inflict misery and pain upon each other, or drive others out of our communities. Let us remember what Christ said: “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.“