In The Ruby Rule, Arthur F. Coombs III deftly tackles how to interact with people who have opposing points of view about controversial subjects, including race, cancel culture, politics and religion, by employing “The Ruby Rule.”
Coombs’ Introduction acknowledges our current polarized society and explains that his book is “about the incivility, anger, and unwillingness to listen or compromise we see online and off every day. And it’s about how we as individuals can navigate the polarized world, respond to it, and work to defuse it.”
To counteract this contentious world, Coombs offers “The Ruby Rule,” his own construct on how to behave. It expands upon “The Golden Rule” (treat others as you would want to be treated) and “The Platinum Rule” (treat others as they want to be treated), exhorting readers to “Treat others to exceed their expectations.” In specific, it asks readers to “embrace productive” arguments; “avoid instant certainty;” resist cancel-culture moments and more.
The author writes thematically, in an easily relatable way. One chapter shares how he encouraged his son and new bride to argue daily, then explains the original notion of arguing in Ancient Greece and its value as a practice. In another chapter, he highlights how two Utah politicians running for governor created a joint commercial promising to debate issues without character attacks—an approach he admired.
Throughout, Coombs cites studies to support his viewpoint. Many surveys, he writes, “affirm the strong presence of a middle ground in American politics.” He also provides guidance on how to empathetically address hot-button issues, offering practical advice, such as how to set boundaries against abusers. Questions and exercises at each chapter’s end prompt readers to reflect on their own actions.
Coombs admits he struggles to apply The Ruby Rule in his own life; as he notes, “It isn’t easy to commit civility.” But his book is an outstanding call to action and would serve as an excellent launching point for group discussions.
Also available as an ebook.