NOTE FROM DENNIS: Over the years, I have vigorously sought to identify definitive principles pertaining to a wide host of social, economic, and relational issues. To qualify, they had to be applicably true in every generation, ethnic group, and jurisdiction of governing and structuring. I have settled on a list of TWELVE MASTER PRINCIPLES. I plan to topically focus on one each month of the coming year, as I believe they are relevant in our current chaos and uncertainty. Previous months may be viewed at THE BOTTOM LINE ARCHIVES.
As we go through the Twelve Master Principles together, we will see two things about them: First, they are all connected to each other in interesting ways, and second, they are all connected to a counterpoint-balancing reality. The balancing point between the principle of Choice and the principle of Reciprocity is an excellent example of this. Recognizing the centering point between all of them (which is Principle One, Transcendence), helps us see the “balancing dynamic” which needs to be sought out in examining any of the twelve.
Reciprocity is the “bridge principle” that connects God’s creation of unique individuality and self with the “usness” of collective humanity and the “I—thou” reality of myself in the context of all other parts of God’s creation in which I exist. My being and my choices, just like those of God, are totally interconnected with my effect on my surroundings and my surrounding’s effect on me. I trust that the reality of all this abstract thinking is not so intellectual or philosophical that it is dismissed. The concept of balance points to an essentially mature level of thinking. Maturity and God’s call and process for all of us require an interplay between our self-choices and the community context they affect. In maturity, my need must become ours.
On a practical level, the so-called “Golden Rule” Jesus gives in Luke 6:31 tells us in modern parlance, “What goes around, comes around.” In other words, the way we treat others is the way we should expect to be treated. Why so? Because our social choices determine the kind of people we attract. The fundamentally selfish run with others who are fundamentally selfish and, conversely, those who think in terms of community seek out others in community. Even the Eastern concept of “karma” recognizes this social reality; we tend to produce fruit “according to our kind” (Genesis 1:24, and used nine other times) and similarly seek out our own kind of people. Self-centered people tend to run together, yet even the self-driven recognize at some level that self-centeredness greatly limits the amount of trust we can extend to others, thus highlighting the need for “enlightened self-awareness.”
As we will see when we examine Principle Twelve in December, the principle of Reciprocity has everything to do with the Bridge of Trust. It is also deeply related to Justice, Principle Ten which we will cover in October. Reciprocity leads us to expect from others what we have sown into them. Justice is all about investments and their returns. Wisdom recognizes that the principle of Reciprocity is not just an essential character virtue; it helps protect us from others who would use us selfishly.
I trust this amended discussion has made clearer the dance between choices and the context of living with and for others. That which is reciprocal is a path towards God and His ways. He is indeed reciprocal because reciprocity can be another word we use for love, and that is…
THE BOTTOM LINE.
Questions for Reflection & Discussion:
- In your own words, how would you define “reciprocity?”
- What is a “balancing point” when dealing with the relationship of related principles?
- How does reciprocity alter our decision-making choices?