When I came home after a late night new year’s celebration at a friend’s house, I briefly thought  about my first post for 2010.  Three things came to mind – the conversation about the virtues of universal ( free) health care in Canada with my buddies during the new year’s eve party , the issue of a friend who complained about not being invited to parties during the holidays and of course, Tiger Woods’ infamous fall from grace that shocked the world. I was wondering if I could blog about them and if my arguments would be in line with popular code of ethics which had become increasingly fuzzier in this day and age.  In my idle time last weekend, I grabbed Carl Sagan’s  Billions and Billions from my modest library to finish the 3rd section of the book and I thought I found something interesting when I came across his essay “Rules of the Game“.  I always go to Sagan for science stuff and much like Einstein, when great scientists talk about morals and society, I am all ears.  As I expected, no explicit answers are given but an analysis of man’s behavior based on the evolutionary nature of the human specie  influenced by the perception of society’s rapidly changing moral values is enough for me to appreciate the author’s  point.

Here’s a couple of excerpts from the article :

“Everything morally right derives from one of four sources : it concerns either full perception of intelligence or intelligent development of what is true; or the preservation of organized society, where every man is rendered his due and all obligations are faithfully discharged; or the greatness and strength of a noble, invincible spirit; or order and moderation in everything said and done, whereby is temperance and self-control.”CICERO, De Officiis, I, 5 (45-44 B.C.)



The Golden Rule : Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
The Silver Rule : Do not unto others what you would not have them do unto you.
The Brazen (Brass) Rule : Do unto others as they do unto you.
The Iron Rule : Do unto others as you like, before they do it to you.
The Tit-for-Tat Rule : Cooperate with others first, then do unto them as they do unto you.


Given the imperfections of human beings we interact with on a daily basis, I will not be overly remiss to surmise that the probability of us straying from the Golden Rule and playing all of the above rules is high, mandated by force of circumstance, in some instances, against our own volition. In the end, the defense mechanism of our innate self preservation instinct can overrule our sense of right and wrong when our existence is threatened. We can certainly do much better than the chimpanzee’s perceived practice of “reciprocal altruism” – do good to me and I will return the favor, not all the time. Being the more enlightened specie in this planet, violence should be our last resort.

Other Rules :

Golden Rule for Superiors and Iron Rule for Inferiors : Suck up to those above you, and abuse those below.
Nepotism Rule : Give precedence in all things to close relatives, and do as you like to others.

Sagan has a point when he said …. ” In making such decisions, we’re concerned not only with doing right but also with what works… what makes us and the rest of society happier and more secure. There’s a tension between what we call ethical and what we call pragmatic. If, even in the long run, ethical behavior were self-defeating, eventually we would not call it ethical, but foolish”. The bottom line is our collective practices – the way we individually play the rules of the game ultimately reflects the overall level of prosperity of the society we live in.  If religion is the ultimate source of the code of morality, how is it that countries that practice similar faiths exhibit varying degrees of moral decadence and societal prosperity? Cicero’s statement makes sense and if man measures his action against the aforesaid four points instead of one, the result would be more balanced and respectable with respect to what society deems as morally right.

Now on the three issues I wanted to blog about…. The debate of whether health care is a citizen’s right or a previlege in a given society is one that will require a dedicated blog to tackle effectively and hear all sides. In a nutshell, it will be difficult to question the moral conscience of a country that desires to protect everyone who gets sick as opposed to protecting only those who can afford to pay. Putting a price tag on health care and making it an enterpreneurial, capitalistic endeavor much like any other commodity raises serious questions about its moral repercussions. As for the friend who doesn’t get invited to the holiday potlucks – sadly the Golden Rule doesn’t apply to a frequent offender. I have no problem with frugal people but I have a problem with frugal people who have money and do not play fair. If you don’t want to spend money then don’t come to the potluck if you’re not bringing food – period. As for the Tiger Woods brouhaha, I will defer on making judgments on his indiscretions in this post. However, I will ask a question – what do you think of  the person who ratted Tiger’s affair with Rachel Uchitel to the media for the reward of $25,000 ?  Was her action morally justifiable ? Did it benefit society in any way ?


A friend attached this pic in his new year’s greeting email to me which I thought was absolutely cool. I don’t plan to acquire anything I never had this year or do anything revolutionary, so I’d better stay put in my cage eh ? 🙂 Since we are in the first week of the new year, I guess it isn’t too late to wish those among us who want to do bigger and greater things in 2010 to jump real high and hit the mark 😉


34 Responses

  1. come one, if it’s potluck, bring something, anything 🙂

    omg in my younger years the golden rule was like a heavy cloud hovering over me. i was fearful of the repercussions of my actions 🙂 it’s a wonder i never had any shrink bills at all.

    • Exactly, play fair like everybody else and be a cheerful participant 🙂

      Nothing wrong with the Golden Rule I tell you but methinks some people don’t react to our graciousness sometimes. Net net, we expect that in return for our kindness and understanding people will do the same but oftentimes, we will just end up frustrated.

  2. I find Sagan’s article extremely thought provoking. I am also curious as to why some of us are conscious of our morals while others are not.

    Well, I don’t see anything moral about getting paid money to squeal on someone’s personal life. These days, money still talks. It all about money.

    • People’s actions are as inexplicable as the stars IMO.

      Right on – it’s all about money and who cares about the other person’s misery 😦

  3. I like the Tit-for-Tat rule 🙂 I will never show up in a potluck party without food. Being thick faced is never my cup of tea 😦

    Omg, did she really get paid that much money for another person’s misery? That is crazy. FYI, I copied the cute jumping fish pic Hope you don’t mind 🙂

    • As long as IT IS FAIR, I am OK with the rule. 😎

      Do you plan to be somebody or do something exciting this year ? 😆

  4. I kinda got amused with them ‘rules’ bro, especially the ‘brazen’ one LOL…

    But hey, in this dog-eat-dog society in which we live in, we need every ‘golden’ rule that could help us by, especially when the goings get tough, and we need to get tough to get going…that’s one rule I lived by…or the ‘live and let die’ kinda thing.

    I often tell my students in the classroom, whenever I get to the point of lecturing about Machiavelli, and his Machiavellian ways, that sometimes, we do something bad in or order to gain greater good …

    • I always have a feeling that the Golden Rule is great for our conscience but sometimes ineffective in a dog-eat-dog society of ours… Now that good is bad and bad is good is another topic of discussion hehe 🙂

  5. Hey, ok, I get it, I guess – but does this really work?

  6. The “potluck” dude is so similar to my sis-in-law, has the mula, always dramatic entrance to parties with all the trimmings (make-up, high heels, new fashion clothes, etc…); but empty handed. No shame but wifey always forgives her….I can rant all day long about her, hehe…..may mga tao talagang hangin ang laman ng kokote.

    Notice most Pro-Golfers especially Phil Mickelson are zipped lips on the Tiger Woods issue……Phil is also a known womanizer and once he comes out criticizing TW, different women from all walks of life will start selling their stories and pics. Good move Phil.

    The Golden Rule is my measuring stick in life.

    • The dude is actually a she.. Frankly, I don’t know why the husband doesn’t tell her off . I am also surprised why we are still friends with them. I guess I am just a nice guy 😉

      In this days of Tiger’s tribulation, silence from his fellow pro golfers is golden 🙂

      True – but is there a Platinum Rule ? 😉

  7. I’m a pragmatist and when it comes to shove, I’ll push, if It will benefit the many.

    That guy sure is thick faced. Until now, he hasn’t realize why his never invited to any party.

    As for the “song bird”. Moral? No. Does it benefit society? Only the gossips. Did it make her 25K richer? Yes, but stupid enough to refuse 200K. Will people trust her again? I’ll trust her like she’s got the plague.

    • Same here. I always thought that perhaps as this world of ours evolve, things that were deemed right because someone said it was right thousands of years ago ought to be challenged for its net benefit to society. Compliance for the sake of compliance to a rule if it causes misery to society ought to be stopped and the rule reviewed and rehashed.

      It does leave a sour taste in our mouths when people make money by exposing other people’s lives to the public. This is a real challenge to the limits of our so called freedom of expression 😯

  8. Here’s another rule for you: Do unto others… then run like hell! 😀

  9. i can’t possibly follow all those rules. that’s a lot! but i like that thing about something i never had. maybe i will try that. coincides with my post actually!

    • I will try my best to follow the good ones only 😉

      Yep, very likely you have to be someone different if you want something you never had . Good luck 🙂

  10. “the issue of a friend who complained about not being invited to parties during the holidays and of course,”
    – maybe he has issues… =)

    I like that pic of a fish jumping into a bigger pond. Yes, doing something “big” is always a gamble physically, emotionally and financially. I’m still in the middle of it. I think you know that. =)

    • definitely… I would say her issue is lack of a sense of dignity ??

      I know, you have talked about your plans.. well, jump high as you never did before buddy and I’m sure you will make it 🙂

  11. Well, much true. What we give out bounces to us.

    • absolutely…. an people who know they did something shouldn’t be surprised when it bounces back to them. What goes around comes around they say 😯

  12. This is really cool post! Honestly, either we like it or not, we bend these rules to survive…(exclamation point). I like the pic too which portrays our human nature of getting what we want, whatever it takes. Happy new year and wishing you a meaningful Year of the Tiger. All the best.

    • I’m sure each of us had bended the golden rule unknowingly. Now we that we read all the other rules it will be bending the golden rule knowingly hehe 😉

      Year of the Tiger eh? I though 2009 was the year of the Tiger ( Tiger Woods) 😆 Happy New year to you too. Good luck in 2010.

  13. nice’ there is another rule pala besides the golden rule : )

  14. following the golden rule makes it safe..

    Happy New Year to you! i hope i can visit as often na…

  15. that golden rule should be inculcated in the minds of all especially in politicians but i’m only dreaming

    love the pic of the flying fish. special triggers for the camera like what i wanted to acquire but only a nice to have that’s why i have to put it off for more important things 😦

    • re politicians – it does appear hopeless, doesn’t it ? 😦

      I think the pic is a product of the wonders of computer graphics and animation 😉

  16. i like the iron rule. hehehe.

    happy new year 🙂

  17. I hope Marlene Aguilar Pollard (of the Jason Ivler’s road rage controversy) reads these Cicero lines. I saw her in an interview where she identified herself as a genius and labeled most of her fellow Filipinos as average in intelligence.

    I always equated intelligence with the high capacity of understanding fellowmen and upholding truth, justice and other moral virtues, and not only with the capacity of writing books that won international awards (which she claimed) and the capacity of convincing others that the black wall is white.

    I like your rules to live by and the picture of the gold fish jumping. Wow! If only I can copy it…

    By the way, I came to know of your website when I read somewhere while I was surfing you won the 2009 Best Filipino Blog Abroad award. Congrats! Truly deserving.

    • I don’t really know who Marlene Aguilar is, but it appears that she is equating her intellectual achievements with high morals and that is quite unfortunate,

      Thank you and I appreciate your dropping by 🙂

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