Three Rules For Living by Jayson X – republished by permission

After talking with my son, who was then nine years old, I got the idea for three rules. Together, these rules seem to be the basis for both virtuous and wise living.
Rule number one is the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you want them to do unto you. This rule applies to all creatures. It does not say “Do unto people . . .” but “Do unto others . . . .” This is good because, simply speaking, all creatures deserve to survive and thrive, and many creatures can suffer. The virtuous do not want to cause any unnecessary suffering.
Ideally, the Golden Rule would be all we would need. If everyone always followed it, everyone would get along. Of course, some people want to be treated differently than other people; but everyone wants to be listened to and respected. Whatever differences arose when everyone followed the Golden Rule could be resolved through respectful dialogue. End of story.
The problem is that this is an imperfect planet in an imperfect universe, populated by imperfect creatures. So some creatures will return kindness with cruelty. We should always do unto others as we would have them do unto us, unless one of those others repeatedly takes advantage of our kindness. In that case, we should resort to the Silver Rule: An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.
The Golden Rule is called the Golden Rule because it promotes the most good in general. After all, gold is more valuable than silver. But silver has its uses too and is also valuable, although generally less valuable than gold. The Silver Rule promotes good in the form of justice. In many cases, when we hurt those as much as they have hurt us, no more and no less, then we have promoted justice, because justice is when someone gets what he or she deserves.
Someone who purposefully pokes out an eye deserves to have her or his eye poked out. Someone who purposefully knocks out a tooth deserves to have his or her tooth knocked out. Most thieves deserve to be stolen from, most rapists raped, and most murderers murdered. That is justice.
The Silver Rule is also a powerful deterrent. Many creatures are so evil that they will be cruel to the kindest of people, but few creatures want to suffer. The Silver Rule provides the suffering that will stop most creatures from doing evil. Most dogs will not attack if they believe they will get severely hurt, and most people will not murder if they are convinced they will soon be killed as a result.
Now, you would think that the Golden and Silver Rules would be enough. The first promotes kindness and the second justice. However, what happens when both rules have been properly applied and the evildoer keeps on hurting the virtuous? The evildoer has to be stopped, and this is best accomplished by the Bronze Rule: Do unto the evildoers worse than they have done unto you.
First of all, notice two words: “evildoers” and “done.” The Bronze Rule applies only to evildoers, which here means those who do much more evil than good and must be stopped. The second word, “done,” is in the past tense. Preemptive strikes are evil. One should let people prove themselves by their actions, because it is their actions alone that make them deserve to be rewarded or punished.
Suppose you followed the Golden Rule and were kind to someone, but that person purposefully and maliciously chose to hurt you. In that case, follow the Silver Rule and hurt him or her. Now suppose that she or he continues to hurt you, despite your attempt to make peace. Your only recourse, besides escape or surrender, is the Bronze Rule. Hurt that evildoer so hard that he or she will not bother you again.
Note that there are times for peacemaking, escape, or surrender, but these actions should supplement the three rules, not replace them. We should always do what we believe is best for everyone. Sometimes it is best to makes peace, escape, or surrender; but usually it is best to live according to the Golden Rule first, the Silver Rule second, and, in a few cases, the Bronze Rule third.
There you have it, the three rules of living. If we live according to them in the proper order, we will make the best out of this imperfect life. So be like an Olympic athlete. Go for the gold first! And if that doesn’t work, go for the silver! And if that doesn’t work, go for the bronze! We can all be medalists in most cases, and medals symbolize victory.