“This is my doctrine: Give every other human being every right you claim for yourself.”

Robert G. Ingersoll

In the grand theater of life, we are all but actors, each stepping onto the stage in our own unique way. We speak different lines, we perform different roles, yet under the greasepaint and behind the costumes, we all bear the same human heart. It is here that my belief, my doctrine, takes root: give every other human being every right you claim for yourself.

Imagine a world where this principle is the golden rule, a sturdy ship’s compass guiding us through the choppy waves of life’s uncertainties. No more need for lengthy rulebooks or complex negotiations. Just one simple, resonating principle. Like a beacon in the fog, it cuts through the noise and lights the way: What you desire for yourself, desire the same for others.

No right is too great, no privilege too small. If you claim the right to be treated with kindness, then treat every soul you encounter with the same warmth. If you believe you have the right to express your thoughts, offer the same platform to others. The right to be respected? To be heard? To feel safe? These are not just your rights. They are universal. They are the birthright of every human being.

In the same vein, don’t rob others of the rights you wouldn’t want to lose. Would you appreciate having your voice suppressed? Likely not. Then let’s not silence others. If being treated unfairly stings you, ensure you do not inflict the same pain upon others. It’s simple, it’s profound, it’s essential. Like breathing in and breathing out, what you take in, you give out.

Picture it as a mirror: what you project, you reflect. The rights you claim for yourself bounce back to those around you. This is not just about being good or being fair; it’s about being human. It’s about acknowledging our shared experience, our common narrative, and understanding that no matter our differences, we’re all cut from the same cloth.

Consider this doctrine not as a mandate but as a call to action, a plea for empathy and understanding. A reminder that by elevating others, we elevate ourselves. It’s an idea, a philosophy, a guiding light. It urges us to treat each person as we would want to be treated, to recognize and respect their rights as we would want ours to be recognized and respected.

So, breathe in this doctrine, let it fill your lungs and suffuse your being. Wear it as your second skin, a constant companion. Every interaction, every connection becomes a living testament to this ideal. You claim rights for yourself; share them with others. It’s not just a doctrine—it’s a way of life.

Stephen Boudreau serves as VP of Brand and Community at Virtuous Software. For over two decades, he has helped nonprofits leverage the digital space to grow their impact. To that end, Stephen co-founded RaiseDonors, a platform that provides nonprofits with technology and experiences that remove barriers to successful online fundraising. He is an avid (but aging) soccer player, audiobook enthusiast, and the heavily-disputed UNO champion of his household.

Copyright ©2023 Stephen Boudreau.