Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on them personally.  Abraham Lincoln

This is one of my favorite Abraham Lincoln quotes, primarily because of its relevance to so many subjects. While I’m aware that we haven’t experienced slavery in the way that Lincoln’s contemporaries did, his words continue to be worthy of reflection.

Very few days go by where I don’t refer to the golden rule, either in the classroom or life in general. This statement is a modification of that truth.

Here’s how it works. Replace “slavery” with a similar word, “subjugation.” If you believe that it’s okay to subjugate or mistreat others, imagine being in the state of being conquered or mastered. Too many classrooms I’ve seen reflect this tone and students become terrified of their teachers. Whenever I observe this, I always wonder how much learning actually occurs.

Now try the word “insult” and you reach the same conclusion. While it’s unlikely that you’ll encounter a website or political party that espouses, “Insult whenever possible,” you can easily identify public figures or everyday people who attempt to elevate themselves by criticizing others. Can it really be that these folks are immune to criticism?

Finally, replace slavery with “lawlessness” or “criminal behavior.” If we demonstrate less respect for laws or the rights of others, we would benefit from seeing ourselves as disrespected.

Once again, the golden rule prevails. Maybe broadening the of definition of slavery makes more sense. Each time we compromise the basic rights of others, we participate in a modern form of slavery.

Too many have died for our freedom for us to be cavalier about the rights of others. Can it be that common sense is no longer common? Shalom.

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