The Golden Rule - a Londoner's perspective

In this series of blogs we ask people from around the world to reflect on what the Golden Rule means to them. In the third of the series we hear from Miranda in London.

Described by Sadiq Khan as “The Greatest City in the World”, it’s often easy to walk through the streets of London and wonder if he was wearing rose tinted glasses. Nearly 1/3 of Londoners still live below the poverty line, 99% breathe polluted air that exceeds WHO recommended limits, and the wealthy top 10% hold 42.5% of the city’s net wealth.

COVID-19, in particular, has shone a light on the stark inequalities our capital is yet to address. With our hospitals underfunded and overstretched, London has accounted for 21% of the total UK COVID-19 deaths, despite housing only 15% of the population.

We are a city of unequals, in which access to education,housing and opportunity is a luxury only afforded to some. It’s therefore understandable that the Golden Rule – “Treat others as you wish to be treated” - has been somewhat compromised.

However, the events of 2020 have also revealed the principles of the Golden Rule to be alive in many of us. 2020 has been the year of the protest, with London often at the epicentre. Black Lives Matter demonstrations in June saw thousands take to the streets to call for an end to the systemic racism ingrained deep in our culture. In August, students gathered in Parliament Square to protest the system which targeted the downgrading of A-level results disproportionately against those less privileged. In September, over 600 people were arrested as part of the Extinction Rebellion protests to draw attention to the current state of climate emergency we face.

These movements owe much of their success to the cohesion with which people rallied behind a cause, and the clarity and passion with which they unmasked such injustices.

No matter your education, postcode or job title, adding your voice to the shouts, your signature to the petitions or your vote to the ballotbox has value equal to that of all other Londoners. It is paramount in instigating policy change.

To me, the Golden Rule is more than just the voice echoing in your head that makes you hold the door open for a stranger or say thank you to the cashier. The Golden Rule extends beyond fleeting interactions we have with other individuals, and spreads much further to the millions of strangers with whom I share this city.

When rephrased as “make sure others are treated as you wish to be treated”, it becomes the universal principle that takes people to the streets in protest to stand up for others.

Countless times, the Golden Rule has guided us in our call for social change, and has been the driving force that empowers us to demand revolution.

We, the people of London, must continue to treat each other with compassion and kindness and live out each day selfless in our actions. Remember that the voice of Londoners, when practicing this maxim in unison, reaches serious volume.

The Golden Rule gives power to the people.

Miranda Shanks is 23 and lives in London. She works for an EdTech Literacy platform for children and has kindly taken the time to write this blog.

If you are interested in giving your perspective on the Golden Rule as part of this blog series, please get in touch.