The Golden Rule: Theirs and Ours

Gary Olson, Empathy Imperiled: Capitalism, Culture, and the Brain (New York: Springer, 2012)

Think of the values and ideas we left progressives tend to identify with and defend and advance against those rapacious “1%”’ masters of capital, for whom the Golden Rule is that “those who have the gold deserve to rule.” Words that first come to mind probably include solidarity, democracy, the common good, equality, justice, peace, and dignity. Other terms might arise: human rights, socialism, freedom, liberty, the commons, people over profits, and people’s power.

Here’s one you might not think to mention: empathy. Empathy, which Gloria Steinem once called “the most radical of human emotions,” means the ability to put oneself in another’s shoes – to understand and sense what that other is experiencing and feeling. In Christian terms it refers to the decision to “love your neigh

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