One of my regular reads is Blue Cereal Education, a blog that regularly makes me say, "Gee, I wish I'd written that." Just this week, the post "It's Not About Them (It's About Us)" gave me both that feeling and a wave of flashbacks to when my children were young.
The point is deceptively simple-- we should treat people based on our understanding of the right way to treat people, not based on what we think they've earned. We oppose, for instance, cruel and unusual punishment not based on what considerations the felon in question has earned, but because we'd rather not be the kind of people who use cruel punishment on others.
How we treat others is not about who they are, but about who we are-- or at least about who we want to be.
It's a good piece. You should really go read it. Go ahead. I'll wait right here.
It takes me back twenty years because this was how the children's mother and I would short-circuit all protests about why somebody really needed to be hit or "you just don't understand the awfulness of Person X"-- you don't hit people because you don't hit people. That's not how you treat other people.
As a moral principle, it really is a great simplifier, which is probably why the basic principle has been around for so long (including that Jesus guy with his "do unto others' and "let he who is without sin" and "judge not" or "the least of these" stuff). We are to extend loving, caring behavior to others because of who we aspire to be-- not because of who they are.
There are always some concerns with this approach. Surely we're not meant to extend decent, CURMUDGUCATION: Deserving: