Golden Rule hits class

By  Myles Gough, The Catholic Register
  • March 16, 2009
{mosimage}TORONTO - Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  

It is a simple and logical instruction that transcends many of the world’s religions, ethical codes and cultures — and one that is now being used in Toronto-area classrooms to help form a common bond between diverse groups of students.

“The Golden Rule preaches unity,” said Canadian filmmaker Tina Petrova. “You may have a different skin colour or a different label on your religion, but under God we are all the same.”

Petrova is the director of a new educational film called Animating the Golden Rule… An Introduction , which debuted in February and could become part of the Toronto Catholic District School Board’s world religions curriculum in the near future.

The award-winning director said her inspiration came from watching high school students attend Golden Rule retreat days at the Toronto-based Scarboro Missions, where she has been an event facilitator since 2003.

“I was witnessing what the youth brought to the table in terms of their artistic expression and creativity, and I thought it was very profound,” she said.

Through dance, music and drama skits, students were able to form relevant ideas that embody the core values of the Golden Rule as it exists across different faith traditions, she said.

The beauty of the message is its simplicity, said Petrova, who is still amazed at the power of a single sentence.

“It sums up what we all want on the planet,” she said. “If we could all live this way the world would be a better place.”

The Golden Rule has ancient roots in many religious and ethical systems, indigenous cultures and secular philosophies. Although it is sometimes expressed differently the sentiment is the same, Petrova said.

Scarboro Missions has been using the universal teaching as a tool to facilitate stronger interfaith relations since 2000, when it first designed and published its Golden Rule poster. The poster, which has earned global recognition, now hangs from the walls of buildings like the Vatican and the United Nations headquarters. On a more basic level, posters have also been spotted in places ranging from nursery schools to hospitals and prisons. The poster has already been incorporated into the Toronto Catholic high school curriculum.

Petrova hopes the 23-minute film can become an interactive resource for teachers and a guide to help them organize their own Golden Rule workshops inside the classroom.  

The Golden Rule is like a common denominator between different faiths that can facilitate co-operation, tolerance and mutual respect, said Fr. Mike Traher of Scarboro Missions.

“It’s like a door — an opening, and all of a sudden a light comes on and we’re figuring out how to work together.”

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