We all have to live by the rules we break.

We must consciously choose to live The Rule of Ethical Reciprocity. It’s time. It’s almost past time. Choose now.
We must consciously choose to live The Rule of Ethical Reciprocity. It’s time. It’s almost past time. Choose now.

I WROTE A BLOG  in 2010 about breaking rules. I still agree with it. We have to learn what rules to break, and then break them if we want to move forward, be creative, and not live in a rut.

But, there is a rule we must not ever break because doing so is so dangerous it can, and will, destroy life as we know it.

This rule is so important it is more than a rule. It’s more than the law. It is even more than a commandment. It is the underlying way of being that we must choose if we want to not just survive but to thrive.

The rule is found in almost every religion and philosophy throughout time. It is called The Ethics Of Reciprocity. We often think of it as the commandment, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Beca Lewis
Beca Lewis

It doesn’t read “Do unto others as they have done unto you.” But, that is the excuse we often use to do the wrong thing.

We break the rule every time we cheat and lie for personal gain without concern for anyone else.

Yes, we do that, in little and big ways. We download pirated movies. We keep the change that is more than what is owed us. We look away when others are being abused. We deny food and shelter to those in need.

We break the rule and we feel as if we can because “everyone does it.” That is a terrifying statement, because yes, everyone does it. We are trained that way. We are trained to believe that we are separate, and some people are better than others.

When we begin from the point of view of survival and choose the law of survival of the fittest, we break the rule.

If we take the word ethical out of the rule we break the rule.

The banking system, composed of people, hasn’t stopping doing what will once again destroy the world’s economy. Companies and governments, composed of people, will continue to destroy the world’s air and water.

Yes, we should be angry that those with power are breaking this rule. Go see the movie The Big Short, and get angry.

But, don’t get distracted and think it is all about them. Yes, they need to be stopped.

But, when we break the rule in big and small ways ourselves, we add to the problem.

We all make mistakes. That is different than consciously knowing what is wrong, and doing it anyway.

It is different than being so distracted, brainwashed, and yes – lazy – that we don’t pay attention to what is going on with ourselves, and with others, and then do something about it.

We can wake up and choose to do the right thing. Let’s do the right thing together. It is time to shift the story that greed, in all its forms, is stronger than what is good and pure.

We can be on the side of angels. We can make choices based on good for all, all of the time. We can let goodness flow over our own life so that it can, and will, roll over and destroy all is going on that is not good.

Let’s make this our intent. It is not as hard as it appears.

Let The Force Awaken within each of us and consciously choose to live The Rule of Ethical Reciprocity. It’s time. It’s almost past time. Choose now.


Beca Lewis is the author of The Daily Shift, a guide to better living.


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  • Funny you should come up with this post at a time when I’m pondering – not considering (there IS a difference) – a question on GoodReads about the ethics of paid reviews, and have just visited a site – Self-Publishing Review – which claims impunity from the consequences of ‘paying for reviews’ (at least on Amazon), because they claim you are not, but only paying for access to their list of reviewers, who are independent – and then supposedly get most of the money.

    They charge you – and guarantee at least a #25 ranking on Amazon. Their twist: they have reviewers. The reviewers are required (who enforces?) to BUY and READ the whole book, and write an honest review, based on a list of the types of books they would like to review submitted when they joined the site as reviewers. The site doesn’t guarantee any kind of review, but offers NOT to publish it if it is 3 or fewer stars (you choose).

    Kirkus Reviews offers similar terms, except that Kirkus basically sends an Editorial Review you decide whether to put on that section of your book’s product page (if you like it, is the assumption – some people apparently decide ‘Kirkus’ is more valuable than the low-star rating they got, and publish it anyway).

    And I was tempted. The package is less than $1000 for all that publicity – and buying publicity is allowed.

    But I am reminded of the woman who wouldn’t sleep with a man for free or for $10, but would consider it at $1,000,000. The man called her a whore, she got indignant, he said that it was already established WHAT she was, and they were merely dickering over price.

    And decided to wait for truly unbiased and honest reviews, even if it costs me, and to go write Book 2.

    While wondering if my competition is investing their $1000.

    Ah, the conscience. So inconvenient sometimes. And I may even be wrong.

    • Hi Alicia – yes there IS a difference. The world offers us these strange little choices which don’t seem to have a black and white answer. I ask myself, what would someone trust me to do. That helps sometimes. What did you decide to do? The review question is so tricky.

      • Thanks, Beca.

        I think of things in terms of how they affect ME, and forget that other people depend on me to make the right choices.

        You are perfectly right: if I subject it to that test, I find that IF I use a review ‘service’ to get visibility and reviews, I would feel honor-bound to make that fact very well known, say, on my blog.

        That would take care of the ‘hidden’ part (the part where not mentioning it implies these are real reviews obtained from ordinary readers who bought the book and liked it).

        That is the ethical flaw: how would I feel if people found out?

        It doesn’t matter if lots of new people found out about the book from the bought/arranged for reviews – the original ones would bother me IF I hadn’t made it clear somehow – and they don’t bother some writers.

        So: professional reviewers are fine – if you identify them somehow as professional/bought/paid for, whatever. The aspect that the ‘service’ advertises – that the reviews are unbiased – is NOT true. There is money involved in the process which goes to the reviewers; it is possible it doesn’t affect their reviews – but the appearance of impropriety still sits there, stinking.

        If a review comes from, say, the New York Times, readers assume the review is unbiased, made by a professional (we can examine the bias part – if the paper gives too many negative reviews to a publisher’s books, will that publisher continue to pay for expensive NYT ads?). But the NYT doesn’t hide who is doing the review, and that they are connected to the NYT, and are paid. Those reviews rightly end up under ‘Editorial Reviews’ on the book’s product page, not under customer reviews.

        THAT’s what’s bothering me: the service I’m talking about is providing CUSTOMER reviews, but these reviews are paid for. They may claim that their reviews meet all of Amazon’s terms – and maybe they have found the very fine line – but if I learned an author had done that, I wouldn’t consider those ‘customer reviews.’

        Sorry for bending your ear!

        • I LOVED this discussion Alicia. It helped me think this through too. Sounds as if you discovered your answer .., Thank you so much for sharing this with me!

          • I don’t know why I’m on my high horse – publishers do this all the time when they rig the game so a favored book gets more exposure and more reviews out the door. They are my direct competitors – I write mainstream fiction.

            It just FEELS sleazy.

            Good talking to you.

          • I agree … it does! Good talking to you too.

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