Know Thyself and Platinum Rules: Thracians Invented Metallurgy

Posted: January 30, 2015 in Uncategorized

Go read this: The Platinum Rule, Religion, and Psychotherapy because it is very good and important and wise.

“Do unto others as they would have you do unto them”.

Let that sink in.

Too often we are told by our 21st century society — quite destructively — to “do unto others as you would have done unto yourself“, which is (as the author clearly states) an inherently unsympathetic and entirely presumptive fallacy. It presupposes that what is good for us is good for another, and that we know what is good for another. Can anyone say… Colonialism?

Often people are confused as to why DIFFERENTIATION and identity — both individual and collective — take such an important place in the ethos of my writing, my teachings, and my life.

This sums it up rather well.

Because I’m not you. And I have no bloody idea what would be good for you. I might have some ideas, I might have some intuitions, but in reality, I neither have the right to assume this, nor the evidence to suggest that it is anything -other- than an idea. And I damn well know that what is good for me is not good for very many people. (Hence, “anomalous“.)

And I sure as fuck know that you’re not me, and you probably don’t have a very good idea of what is good for me (unless you guessed whiskey or cigars, in which case, carry on), and anyone who tried to make this assumption about me would find themselves… wrong. Which is why I come with instructions. (True facts. There’s a manual and everything.)

The implicit and unspoken undertone to this whole topic is the quality of RELATION. All of these are considerations which, even in silent or purely mental scape, exist within a continuum of -relating- with other beings. We don’t “do unto others” or “have done unto us” anything outside of various types and levels of relational exchange.

And therein lies the center of it all: to be in relationship authentically and fully and truthfully with another being, you need to acknowledge that being as something that is not you, or yours, or for you; which means understanding that perhaps what is good for you is NOT good for the other.

…and this applies to more than just human relations, as well.

Knowing what is good for you, and also knowing where the boundaries of what you know, are good things. Too often we are taught never to show what we -don’t- know about ourselves, and yet with misapplied and never-understood maxims (“Know thyself“) propagated by every self-help-guru-mystic-ninja-wizard on the bookshelf/internet, very few ever actually make any great realistic and practical headway (even and especially when attached to a group or movement which supposedly has these concepts as a foundation) toward the kind of self-knowledge intended in the Delphic statement.

Part of “Knowing Thyself” is having the courage and clarity to state “I have no fucking idea, mate…” in the mirror, and then — once that part has been tackled — to others. It turns out that one of the best expressions of self-knowledge is admitting to the equal portions of self-ignorance.

“Do unto others–” in the classic Golden Rule approach suggests a third fallacy, in addition to the Colonialist assumptions. Not only does it mistakenly promote the idea that:

1) “What is good for me is good for you”, and…

2) “I know what is good and/or harmful for you”, but likewise that…

3) “I know myself”.

I would argue that anyone who makes unqualified statements of self-knowledge is at best horribly deluded, and at worst, actively deceiving– themselves, as much as anyone else. If the fallacious qualities of 1) and 2) can be understood accurately as a model employed in humanist Colonialism mentality (“convert! it is good for you! also give us your land! and gold! in exchange for this book!”), then it can be assured that those proliferating such things (in the past and present) lacked some pretty intrinsic self-knowledge. It is not as if they were actually and legitimately “bettered” by committing atrocities, genocides, and so forth, in the sense meant by the term “good”.
So, it turns out, atrocity and genocide — erasure, murder, assault, corruptive infectious spread of alien ideas and degrading the sanctity of sovereign identity — are born of self-ignorance, rather than merely douchemuffinry.

Relational authenticity (as discussed above) relates (ha!) not only to one’s connections and exchanges with OTHER beings (as is the focus in my writing) but with our own internal “self-other” as well. There is this profound state of self-relation that can be achieved by moving beyond the simplistic, invalid, and horribly reductive — not to mention stunting and limiting — idea that we as differentiated individuals are somehow existing of only one singular agency, some monolithic and static inner “one-ness”.

All things that we love, we must also in some way hate or fear, though it is far less comforting to look on those truths. (How could one not fear something that makes them that vulnerable? How could one truly love something and -not- be vulnerable, at least as much as as strengthened and empowered?) This applies to people — family, kin, elders, children — as well as to ideas and religious devotions and, internally, to one’s own many-layered selves.

Which is all to say, it is way too complex to sum up in trite fortune-cookie-style sentences, but if this must be done for the sake of marketable publications, the Platinum Rule is a far better option that the one promoting Colonial Mass-Genocide and Global Erasure and Subjugation of Literally Everything On The Planet.

So, go on: Know Thyself. Know-the-Shit-Out-Of-Thyself. Know yourself so fucking hard that you can clearly identify the crevices and nooks and crannies that you cannot see into, and perhaps never will, because fuckity fuck sometimes we are just not meant to know.

Thracians, or at least the proto-Thracian tribal peoples who inhabited those mountainous regions in pre-history, are said to have basically invented metallurgy in the ancient world. Thracian Gold is kind of a thing. But you know what else is a thing? Going into caves for years at a time because, fuck, we just can’t spend all our damn time sitting in the sun and pretending that its light illuminates everything. Sometimes you’ve gotta dig deep and fucking die to find out how to honestly speak to the things that you don’t know, that you can’t know, that you won’t ever know: and in naming them as such, holy shit, you come to know them. Kind of.

So don’t think that what is good for you is good for me, or your neighbor, or your child.

Celebrate difference and celebrate ignorance and light your proverbial insides with a torch and dance in revelry with the flames as they throw shadows on the walls of the cave of marrowed blood and bone you emerged from into this world.

And for fuck’s sake, put that “Golden Rule” bullshit into the fire so we can melt it down for something more useful, and less… you know, murderous.

This is not in any way the end of this conversation, not a complete and total vision of it: but it seems a damn good way to start.

  1. I had not heard the Platinum Rule before…

    But, I have been emphasizing for the last 8 years the Silver Rule, which is actually what most of the supposed “Golden Rule” statements are in other religions besides Christianity and Islam, i.e. don’t do to others what you don’t want done to you. When I explain this to my World Religions classes, I always use the example of conversion and proselytization, and say “How many of you enjoy having your dinner interrupted by a knock at the door with someone telling you why you should convert to their religion?” to demonstrate it, because chances are, they know nothing of how horrific forced conversions are, but they do at least have a sense of annoyance at Jo-Hos and Momos coming to their door.

    I’ve heard Christians denigrate the Silver Rule as “not-as-good-as” the Golden Rule because it’s negative and says “don’t” rather than “do,” but from my viewpoint, the “don’t”s are easier and more logical and more likely universal than the “do”s. I know I don’t like being robbed, beaten up, lied to, or called names, so I try not to do those things (and actually three of the four are pretty easy to do!), but I don’t know what someone else would like, and I’m pretty damn sure what they’d like isn’t what I like, as I’ve learned thousands of times over on a yearly basis when people tell me how wrong, stupid, evil, and whatever-else I am for liking the things that I like and doing the things I do (and not just people of other religions, I’d add).

    In any case, this is a very interesting and very difficult (in a good, challenging, and usefully-so fashion!) set of questions to grapple with! Thanks for writing this!

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