The Christian commandments read like this:
1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me
Insecure or what. A true god would have no need to state this.
2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image
Yet more insecurity..
3. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain
I can see this is about respect… but seriously, 3 ‘commandments’ down and it’s still me, me, me
4. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy
We’re at number 4 now and still no ‘thou shalt not kill’??
5. Honour thy father and thy mother
Finally, something worthwhile. We could definitely use more parental respect in the modern world. Could also use more parents worthy of respect too though…
6. Thou shalt not kill
The big one. Should have been first on the list, but at least it is here.
7. Thou shalt not commit adultery
Meh…fair enough, adultery doesn’t do anyone any favours in the long run, but I would have thought one against slavery or rape would have been more useful.
8. Thou shalt not steal
Common sense…don’t go nicking stuff.
9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour
Don’t lie…quite sensible
10. Thou shalt not covet
Don’t be jealous…though maybe ‘don’t be greedy’ would have been better.
So, ten of them and we don’t actually need the first four. Not really, unless you already believe in god…in which case you’d obey them anyway. And for anyone who doesn’t they are pretty much pointless. Also, it’s very insecure. Nearly half of them are about obeying god and respecting him etc. So we can get rid of them for a start.
Now we’re down to six. No killing, no stealing, no adultery, no lying, no jealousy — all good. We’ll keep them but I think they can be tidied up a little.
In fact, the spirit of almost every rule, every guideline, every good point that ALL religions have to make can be condensed into these ten words:
“Do not take that which is not yours to take”
It covers murder, theft, rape, slavery, etc…actually, pretty much every major crime is covered by it. Read it again if you don’t believe me, and apply it to any crime you can think of.
We don’t need ten commandments, just ten words is enough.
Then add these two…
“Strive to never hurt any living thing physically, emotionally or financially”
That one covers almost everything that is left – assault, bullying, cruelty to animals etc.
“Where possible, always be honest.”
Don’t lie. Sometimes you might be in a position where you have to tell a white lie, but white lies are usually worth it in the end (covering for a surprise party for example) and rarely lead to any real hurt.
…and we’re done! If everyone lived by those three rules then the world would be a much better place. I appreciate that the ten commandments were written a few thousand years ago…they’re old; drink-driving or internet piracy is not likely to be listed…but god used ten and still couldn’t cover everything. I have used just three and got the job done significantly better.
So to sum up, the ‘3 commandments’ (or grand rules, pillars of humanity, human directives etc) should be:
#1 Do not take that which is not yours to take.
#2 Strive to never hurt anyone or anything physically, emotionally or financially.
#3 Where possible, always be honest.
I do appreciate that I mentioned drink driving earlier and you could argue that none of the 3 commandments explicitly outlaws it (I suppose #2 is the nearest) but these are not supposed to take the place of any laws. These are not intended to be legally enforceable or cemented by political act (but if everyone believed and truly lived by them then we wouldn’t need many laws anyway!). They are more about changing the mindset of people. The kind of person who will take them seriously and embrace them truly is the kind of person that represents the future of the human race.
I do also acknowledge that none of them really outlaws prejudice, selfishness or any of those other negative human emotions, but those are things that are so inbuilt into us that the only thing that can really help there is evolution.
Finally I would add that these 3 directives are not to stand alone. I used the phrase ‘collection of guidelines and philosophies’ earlier in this piece, and 3 of anything is hardly a collection. They are to be the vanguard of a new era of thinking and will be at the head, and at the heart, of a new philosophy. One based on what is true and what is right. One that can never be wrong but that can always be changed. One that doesn’t persecute anyone or assume anything.
Next time: The way it should be.