Historians tell us that between the ninth and
second centuries B.C.E. a new concept for living came into the
consciousness of humans. Inexplicably it filtered throughout the world
and began to appear in the sacred records of all civilizations. The
concept was that of Compassion. And the focal point of this was the
Ethic of Reciprocity; commonly know as the Golden Rule. The Christian
version is: "In everything, do to others as you would have them to
do to you; for this is the law and the prophets." It is considered
to be the most consistent, prevalent and universal ethical principle in
history. It surpasses religious boundaries and finds it way into
cultures, philosophical circles, and indigenous traditions.
was almost a decade ago that Paul McKenna, head of the Interfaith Desk
at Scarboro Missions in Toronto Canada, published his Golden Rule
Poster. It is a brightly coloured poster of yellow and blue featuring
the symbols of 13 different world religions. Beside each symbol is
written that religion’s version of the Golden Rule.
The poster was like a dove released into the
wind. Taking on a life of its own it travelled around the world. It
graces a wall in the United Nations building, has a home in the Vatican,
hangs in different places of worship on every continent, speaks to
visitors of town and city halls, and beckons to students in the
corridors of their schools. In Africa, translated versions of the Golden
Rule poster have been handed out by the thousands in various countries,
thanks to the untiring efforts of the board chair of the Interfaith
Peace Building Initiative in Ethiopia, Mussie Hailu. The poster’s
travelogue is endless.
On Sunday, Feb. 22, 2009, the Golden Rule
Poster came to another major milestone. A new film on the Golden Rule
Poster was previewed to a select audience at the Scarboro Missions. The
film was produced by Tina Petrova, a Toronto film producer. The idea for
the film came out of her production of another film: Rumi Turning
Ecstatic. During the production of the Rumi film, Petrova was
led to the Scarboro Missions for part of the filming. Through a series
of seemingly disconnected encounters, she came face to face with the
Golden Rule poster. This meeting planted the seeds of a film on the
Such principles as the Golden Rule continue
along the river of time only as long as new generations embrace them and
make them their own. The Golden Rule movie is about such a generational
embrace. In the film, Petrova presents a group of Catholic high school
students teenagers on a Golden Rule Retreat at Scarboro Missions. They
are given the opportunity to express the Rule through their own creative
lenses. The group is divided into smaller groups and each team is
assigned one of the thirteen religions. Their team assignment is to take
the golden rule as it is stated within their assigned religion and to
prepare a theatrical skit, a musical demonstration, a poetic expression,
a song or any creative process to demonstrate that version of the Golden
The film shows clips of many of the
presentations. The creativity employed is ingenious. Each student
definitely shows that our creative capacity surely is a gift of the
Divine. Each team was given only 30 minutes to devise and practice their
skit. Each team gave us back a gift in return.
At one point, a team of students swirl into
dance to the words of the Golden Rule. Later a stage drama moves from
chaos to a meditative stance. Drums later beat an entrance for a young
man with a sonorous voice at a podium speaking the words of the rule.
Actors become bugs playing on the road, threatened by cars they are
saved by Jayne the Jain proclaiming that nothing will die on her watch!
Another acting troupe portrays a careless young woman who does not care
for the life of insects until a spiritual being changes her into a bug
who does not enjoy her fate.
The Golden Rule is portrayed and sung, guitars
and bongos resound to the themes. And most of all the entire group of
teenagers rejoice in the ancient ethic, willingly embracing it as
theirs. Joyfully they pass it to others through their creative talents.
Collectively they demonstrate in microcosm the potential effect of this
global ethic on the entire human family.
Afterwards students discuss what they learned
personally from the experience about themselves and about each other.
They share their newfound understanding about how they see the Golden
Rule can change the world. The exercise captured so well by Petrova and
her crew shows us two basic truths about the Golden Rule: its
power lies in the doing – not in the knowing; and that its expression
springs from our collective global consciousness.
The DVD contains more than just the movie,
"Animating The Golden Rule". It is also an educational
package. The following DVD extras are included:
ABOUT THE GOLDEN RULE
Paul McKenna gives an in-depth look at the
Golden Rule. By tracing the history of this Ethic of Reciprocity he
shows how engrained the Golden Rule is in our lives. He explores the
three principle traits of the Golden Rule: Simplicity; Universality; and
Paul then goes over the Golden Rule Poster
detailing the symbolism of the images used to make up the poster. He
demonstrates how the poster itself directs the observer in the direction
In his talk, Paul speaks of a wise sage who
stated: "Knowledge of the Golden Rule comes not with study but with
THE GOLDEN RULE SONG
Alex Moszczynski, a young song
writer/musician, has composed a song about the Golden Rule. In the first
of two videos sections he sings the song to a backdrop of images taken
from the Golden Rule video.
In a second video section he sings the song
while the words of the song are shown on the screen. This is ideal for
group activities, allowing viewers to sing along.
Biographies of the film team are presented.
The principle production team members, Tina Petrova and Renata Simkus,
discuss future plans they have to create films around various aspects of
the Golden Rule.
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