What is the Golden Rule?

Episode 30 in Part 2 of our Introduction series: Getting to know yourself.

Habits:  Giving | Positive attitude

Skills:  Empathy | Relationships

Description:  In this episode, we introduce you to The Golden Rule, a concept that has a version within every major world religion. We outline what it means to live up to The Golden Rule, why it's hard, but also why it's just a habit. We also consider how The Golden Rule relates to both empathy and courage.

How this lesson might be discussed with your child

This episode introduces a religious concept, which is common to all major faiths around the world in one form or another. It's called the Golden Rule, and is represented by statements such as:

'Always treat others as you'd like to be treated yourself.' or,
'Don't do to others what you would not like them to do to you.' or,
'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.'

The Golden Rule is a request for us to be compassionate, and religious historian Karen Armstrong suggests this is central to the moral code of all people.

We outline the difficulty that comes with living up to the Golden Rule, and why it requires empathy and courage to live up to.

The Golden Rule, and compassion in general ask us to get to know others – an act that frequently causes us to find common ground – to celebrate what we have in common, rather than have us focus on what separates us.

When discussing this episode, some questions might include:

  • Why do you think it's important to show compassion for others?

  • Do you think it is hard to live up to the Golden Rule? Why/Why not?

  • What small action could you take to live up to the Golden Rule?

  • Why do you think getting to know someone better helps us to be more compassionate?

  • Do you think it is sometimes difficult to get to know other people? Why/Why not?

Some specific discussion points

Discussion on the Golden Rule may bring up concerns around being religious or faith-based content. This may be fine for some, but difficult for others to accept. Passion Arena's content is deliberately non-religion based for this reason, but the Golden Rule message on compassion is included as it is a message that is common to all major world religions and is widely accepted as a good moral code to live by for those who do not believe in or practice any particular faith.

Discussing the quote from this episode:

"Compassion is not religious business, it is human business, it is not luxury, it is essential for our own peace and mental stability, it is essential for human survival." — The Dalai Lama

Possible areas of discussion may include:

  • Do you believe compassion is 'human business'? Why/Why not?

  • Do you think compassion is 'essential for our own peace and mental stability'? Why/Why not?

  • How do you think the world would be different if people were more compassionate?

  • What one step could you take today to increase your compassion for others?

Further information on this topic

If you'd like to dive a bit deeper on this topic, you might be interested in watching:


Karen Armstrong: Let's Revive The Golden Rule.


Or you might like to read:

Twelve Steps To A Compassionate Life
by Karen Armstrong, 2010.