It was not meant as a guide to practical choice separate from all other principles of conduct. It has nothing to say about specific choices, nor does it vouch certain moral principles, ideals, or virtues.
The golden rule relates, rather, to a perspective thought vital to the exercise of even the most basic morality: that of trying to put oneself in the place of those affected by one's actions, so as to counter the instinctive tendency to moral shortsightedness. It instructs listeners to treat others with the respect and understanding they themselves would wish to come across, and not to cause misfortunes on others that they would detest to have caused upon themselves.
The golden rule put emphasis on the ethic of empathy: treat others as you would like them to treat you. Empathy relies on understanding that the other person senses pains as you do or will feel gladness as much as you do if they are properly dealt with. If another person is mourning, you feel his/her grief and offer consolation. If another is hurt, you go out of your way to extend help and you treat the injured person with support to prevent further suffering.
Empathy, however, is not equally present among human beings, nor is any person incessantly empathetic for others. Some are deficient in empathy and are selfish, irresponsible and do harm to others with out feeling any remorse. The natural tendency is to treat only a number of other people, immediate members of a select group, and to be distrustful of and unreceptive to everyone else. Empathy can stimulate on in one circumstance and hold off in another situation. Once a particular group labels that non-members are threats, empathy is switched off and group members treat outsiders as though they were intruders.
Actual situations may well affect how we relate the golden rule by looking at the practical significance of differences between experiences such as: observing another, how one would feel in the situation of another, what is the feeling of another, what is the world from the perception of the other, the impact of an action on the other, how the other would judged the fairness of another's act, and taking the other's viewpoint clearly into consideration in moral decision-making. Imagining oneself, however, in the situation of another is not plainly required by the golden rule, nor is it a requirement or adequate state for sound moral judgment. At times one acts it but stays unenlightened because of unawareness or self-deception, and occasionally one comprehends intuitively what is to be performed without any definite act of imagination.
We normally presuppose that we understand others intuitively, that we empathize truly, that our expressions of sympathy are appropriate. Despite our usual dependence on empathy to enlighten us about another, our emphatic feeling of others often gives the wrong impression. The golden rule instructs us to treat others as we want others to treat us, thus implicitly advancing the assumption that there are important shared aims or similarities between the self and another. Over dependence on commonalities can dull receptiveness to dissimilarity just as much as being overly impressed with dissimilarity can make people blind to empathy. If the golden rule is to be understood as encouraging complacency about empathizing with others, then the rule would seem