Doing Unto Others

A recent celebrant on CTV’s local Mass for Shut-ins began his homily with this line:

If you go out into the garage and stay there all day, it doesn’t make you a car. Similarly if you go to church every Sunday, it doesn’t make you a Christian.

That statement threw me for a loop really, but on consideration, the truth of it becomes quite clear. Most Catholics, for example, who attend church on a regular basis certainly consider themselves to be followers of Christ and his teachings and therefore very Christian.

But “being Christian” demands much more of us than attending church services and that’s where the rubber hits the road.

We often quote the Golden Rule as the epitome of what it is to live a Christian life and, in fact, at least 13 world religions preach some form of “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Golden Rule, various religions

Source: Scarboro Missions

Islam, for instance tells its adherents:

Not one of you truly believes until you wish for others what you wish for yourself.

Sikhism states it this way:

I am a stranger to no one and no one is a stranger to me. Indeed, I am a friend to all.

And Judaism puts it this way:

What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. This is the whole Torah, all the rest is commentary.

I find the Islamic faith captures the Golden Rule quite succinctly when it states that to be a “true believer” you must “wish for others what you wish for yourself.” I would assume, though, that a “true believer” would not only wish for others to have what they have, but would make every effort to ensure they do. We have only to follow the news each day, and yes, especially at this time of year, to realize how many of our fellow citizens’ lives fall far short of what most of us take for granted.


Doing unto others becomes an entirely different proposition when one is watching homeless people being driven from their tent shelters, as was done in our provincial capital not long before winter weather hit with a bang.

interior emergency shelter

Emergency shelter interior (Source: Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth)

While it was a major Golden Rule moment when Catholic parishes in the area decided to have shelters built on their premises to house some of the homeless, and while such housing protects people from the weather and gives them a small space to call their own, the fact is that, come spring, they must move on to God knows where.

Meanwhile, developers wanting to build multi-unit high rises don’t want to include affordable housing in their projects. Which is why affordable housing used to be a big part of the federal government’s agenda — literally all of the public housing in this province dates to the period when the feds were providing funding. And until the feds are moved or pushed to tackle the housing crisis, not only in Nova Scotia but in many other areas across the country, we will continue to see human beings wrapped in blankets or sleeping bags, unable to get a bed in a homeless shelter, surviving as best they can on the street.

It’s not that housing units are not being constructed locally but I would be surprised if those I pass when I drive through King’s Road include units that lower-income people could afford.

I checked back and I have written about homelessness often over the past few years and often, of course, at this time of the year when most of us are busy preparing for Christmas and the call to do unto others becomes a constant refrain that any caring person, religious or not, realizes must be answered. And answered it is — Nova Scotians managed to donate more than $700,000 to Christmas Daddies in one day, so no family should go without a Merry Christmas. Meanwhile, groups around our island have been raising money for food banks that, in turn, continue to provide food to those who, given the rising prices of food and heat, will be facing dire circumstances when the holiday season ends.


Those food prices that we are told will continue to rise into 2022 are bad enough, but the way they’re rising — with large grocery chains shrinking cans and packages while hiking prices — adds insult (do they think we won’t notice?) to injury. It also leaves me feeling less than sorry when I hear someone like Sylvain Charlebois, a professor studying food distribution and security at Dalhousie University in Halifax, claiming that grocery chains are losing $3,000 to $4,000 a week due to theft, including theft by their own employees.

Sobeys worker

Source: Empire Co

I looked up Charlebois’ “research” and discovered it began this way:

Apparently, shoplifting has been on the rise in supermarkets in Canada in recent months. Concrete data on theft in grocery stores is harder to get since incidents are typically underreported.

In the absence of “concrete data,” Charlebois relies on  “anecdotal estimates” by “various retailers” in Montreal, Halifax and Toronto.

But I have some “concrete data” that suggests “our grocers,” as Charlebois calls them, are doing just fine, despite any losses due to theft:

Empire, which owns multiple food retailers including Sobeys, Safeway, IGA, Foodland and FreshCo, earned $175.4 million in its latest quarter [Q2 2021], up from $161.4 million in the same quarter last year, helped by a nearly five per cent increase in sales. (Toronto Star)

Canadian retailer Loblaw Cos Ltd (L.TO) raised its annual earnings outlook after posting third-quarter revenue and profit that beat estimates on Wednesday, helped by robust demand for groceries and other essential items during the COVID-19 pandemic…The company also said its online sales remained above pre-pandemic levels and are on track to exceed C$3 billion in 2021, which would be higher than the C$2.8 billion recorded a year earlier. (Reuters)

But all that aside, hats off to all those Golden Rule devotees who put their money where their mouths are. Those who don’t just wish for others what they wish for themselves, but who do what they can — to the best of their financial ability — to ensure others actually have those things.

Merry Christmas!




Dolores Campbell, a lifelong resident of Sydney, is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in The Cape Breton Highlander, the Nova Scotian, Cape Breton Magazine, Catholic New Times and The Cape Breton Post.