My Ten Commandments

I’ve been thinking about this for a few days. It started when I read a list of important things for living a good life that someone posted. It included things like not airing your dirty laundry (makes for a dull blog, but probably a good idea), not putting down your spouse in public, and my favorite, which is to remember you can’t control what others do, only how you react to it.

Today’s sunrise featured frost and banks of fog. I’ll miss sunrises when it’s back to being dark when I get up.

The one that got me thinking the most, however, was the one that said (I’m paraphrasing):

Even if you aren’t a Christian, follow the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule.

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I thought that, well, as a matter of fact, there are some commandments that I seem to find more important than many American Christians. The same goes with the teachings of their prophet, Jesus, but I’ll stick with commandments and the Golden Rule.

An’ ye harm none, do what ye will.

You are probably aware that the Golden Rule of treating others as you would want to be treated is found in most spiritual paths. I’ve put a version of the Wiccan version up there on the image. I like that one, too – do what you want to do as long as you aren’t harming others. I sure watch a lot of people who will firmly assert their adherence to Christian beliefs who have no trouble at all wishing others ill, calling them and their elected officials horrible names, and attacking their morals. Then they squeal if anyone dares call them on it or say a negative word about their leaders.

Take a deep breath and enjoy some shepherd’s purse.

I am going to assume that they are members of one of the Christian sects out there for whom the rules are just suggestions. You know, the ones who get elected to office on their Christian values then vow to eliminate liberals and moderate Republicans from their county (true story and it’s making me grumpy).

What about Those Commandments?

So, what about them? I always thought most of the “guidelines” Moses passed on were pretty darned good. Others don’t apply literally, but may in spirit. And I think it’s fair to expect people who insist on following any of them try to follow them all.

There are many versions. Here’s one from @mockingbirdstudios via Twenty20

No other gods before them

Whew. I sure see a lot of folks out there who worship power and money more than the god they profess to worship. If I have a deity, their god is wrapped up in it, since I’m a big fan of Mother Nature, or the life force around us that guides us. That’s as woo-woo as I will get here. So yeah, the Great Spirit in its many guises is number one with me.

No graven images

Yeah, right. That is the most optional one for many Christians, though there are sects who take it extra seriously. Since I can’t carve a picture of spirit, I do this, for sure. I admit to lots of images of various deities, but those are just metaphorical representations, I hereby declare. (So, you’re okay, Brighid and Buddha.)

No taking the name in vain

This one gets broken over and over and over by most people in the US, though there are some who are quite careful, gosh darn it. Much of it’s just habit and talking the way we were raised to talk. I’m always saying, “Oh my god,” but for some reason don’t say “goddamned this and that.” In any case, I fail at this one even as a nature worshipper, because I sometimes curse the weather. I should know better, too, because as I’m often told, we need rain around here!

I will try to better about taking the name of Gaia in vain! After all, you gave us all life and a fine planet to hang out on. That was a good idea, Moses.

The Sabbath

Visiting one’s house of worship regularly is something lots of people do, and I used to do it myself. It’s nice to be around people who have similar beliefs and to hear a good message. Organized religion and I have just never gotten along (not just Christianity…all of them), so I don’t do that anymore. I do take time, often, to spend quiet time in nature, where I learn lessons from the trees and birds and give thanks for everything around me. That counts for me.

Besides, many folks who diligently head to a house of worship weekly think nothing of hate speech, cruelty to others, and breaking the other commandments. It’s their choice, though.

Parental honor

Societies around the world revere ancestors and honor parents. Anyone who has a hand in raising a child and does so with good intentions is worth honoring. I’m grateful to my long-departed parents for doing their best to raise me. That said, blind obedience and devotion don’t work for me. If your parents treated you badly or hurt you, you have every right to distance yourself from them. And I say that as a parent whose child has left me. That hurts deeply, but they have every right to do what they think is best.

So, I guess this one is not one of my favorites. Hmm, I’m halfway through the list of commandments and none of these are things I think about a lot. Now let’s get to the good ones.

No killing

They might as well delete this one off the list. Christians around the world flagrantly disregard this one and can come up with oh so many reasons to make exceptions. This is the one that I absolutely agree with. I’m not killing people, even people I don’t like, disagree with, or think want to hurt me.

I get yelled at often for this. Won’t I defend myself or my property? (Yep, without killing people.) And yes, if the County Judge sends out the minions and rounds up all the people who don’t share his political beliefs, I’d rather die than harm a neighbor. I couldn’t live with myself if I harmed another human on purpose.

Please note that I do not, and never will, want to force my morals on others. Nor do I disrespect people who choose a way of life where killing others is a possibility. That’s part of the society I live in, and I accept it. I know I’m in the minority, and it’s okay.

No adultery

At one time in my life, I struggled with this, since I could love more than one person at the same time and really felt like this rule was more about keeping inheritance straight down the patrilineal line than about who one loves. And when bound by legal or personal commitments, I refrained from it. So, I’ve followed the letter of this law, even though it’s grounded in a system I dislike.

I think people should have agreements on this stuff and do what works for them in their private lives, though. It’s not my business nor the business of any deity. It’s legal. That said, I am not looking for hookups at this time. (I can just see all these sad potential suitors out there…not really.)

If I go to hell for this, I hope it’s a hot tub.

I feel compelled to point out how many people Christians admire and follow have no qualms about the whole adultery thing. I wonder if power makes people exempt.

No stealing

I’m all for this one. What’s yours is yours. Some organized religions ought to think about this. Some Christians ought to think about their personal ethics and whether they preclude stealing from others in less blatant ways than just grabbing stuff out of their houses.

False Witness?

I loathe it when people out and out lie about others. It’s a big peeve of mine. Sure, everyone’s version of the truth differs, and sometimes hearing things from two different points of view might make you think one person is lying when they each think they are telling the truth. I get that.

I’m baffled, though, about how people who repeatedly make false statements, accuse others falsely, and even contradict themselves over and over can be respected and revered. That always seems to be the case with totalitarian leaders, for example, or wannabe totalitarian leaders. This worries me a lot.

One of the things that is important to me, ethically, is to not lie to others and to not point fingers, so I do my best to keep opinions to myself outside my trusted circle. Everyone needs a trusted circle, so they won’t explode from keeping things in!


I can remember repeatedly asking my Sunday School teachers what the heck coveting means and what it had to do with Frenchie Purvis next door (the neighbor’s wife). I did eventually figure out that it has something to do with not being jealous of people who have things you don’t. I am so grateful for what I DO have that I’m fine not having what other people have…except maybe grandchildren. I think I covet grandchildren. I sure would like a little baby to dote on all of my own. But I will just knit blankets for others and once the whole pandemic thing lets me, hug and snuggle with the babies of friends and neighbors.

Moses was right about this. Other people’s lives always seem better than our own, because we don’t know all about them. I’m glad for the good things other people have and get to enjoy. I’ll enjoy my own things.

Was this worth it?

After going through this exercise, I have concluded that the Hebrew rules are okay, but not really the ones I am going to base my life on. That seems to be the conclusion most people come to, even ones who are members of groups supposedly required to follow them.

Peace, love, nature, freedom, and unicorns to all of you.

It IS good to think about where your ethics and morals come from and to do a check on whether you’re being consistent, falling down on some, or holding others to standards you can’t keep up with. I hope by reading this you thought a little bit about your own rules for life and how they’re holding up.

I send love to ALL of you, including those who may not agree with me or may think differently from how I do in some areas. Variety is good. I just would hope that most of us treat each other well.

MLMs, Small Businesses, Pyramid Schemes, and Me

A few days ago, my blogger friend V wrote up her opinions of multi-level marketing companies (MLMs). I thought she made some great points, and her viewpoint helped me solidify my own thinking about these businesses. I also read the many comments on her post (how do you get people to comment? I have no clue!) and learned a lot from them.

These are “the” pyramids, and have nothing to do with any marketing scheme other than their shape. Photo by @HazemElEtre via Twenty20.


First, since I posted something about this on Facebook recently, I know some of you want to know what an MLM is.

My Facebook post, which is still getting comments after two weeks.

So, here’s what the US government says:

MLM companies sell their products or services through person-to-person sales. That means you’re selling directly to other people, maybe from your home, a customer’s home, or online.

If you join an MLM program, the company may refer to you as an independent “distributor,” “participant,” or “contractor.” Most MLMs say you can make money two ways:

  • by selling the MLM’s products yourself to “retail” customers who are not involved in the MLM, and
  • by recruiting new distributors and earning commissions based on what they buy and their sales to retail customers.

Your recruits, the people they recruit, and so on, become your sales network, or “downline.” If the MLM is not a pyramid scheme, it will pay you based on your sales to retail customers, without having to recruit new distributors.

A pyramid scheme is an illegal and really bad version of an MLM.


You have heard of many MLMs, though you may not know it, since most people who participate call them small businesses. They started out a LONG time ago, too. I remember our 1960s “Avon Lady” very well (she gave me tiny lipsticks, which made me feel grown up). And my grandmother had a friend who pushed Amway detergent at her.

MLM examples you may know of include: Amway, Avon, Color Street, doTerra,* LuLaRoe, Mary Kay, Nu Skin, Onehope Wine, Pampered Chef, PartyLite, Perfectly Posh, Rodan + Fields, Scentsy, Tastefully Simple, Thirty-One, and Young Living. Who hasn’t bought some of these products? And many of them are pretty good quality, fun, and only a bit over-priced.

A product sold through an MLM (one I have never bought from). Photo by @jeswfromtexas via Twenty20.

My History with MLMs

I cannot come across Holier Than Thou and say that I’ve never been involved in MLMs because I have so many ethics and know how much money they take away from friends, etc. I’ve bought a LOT. I also can’t say I don’t know people who have made a reasonable supplemental income off them, because I DO.

To be honest, I always felt good about helping friends out with making a little extra money on good quality items that I can actually use. I even had a few “parties” back in the good old days. We used to have a blast with PartyLite, quickly getting past ordering some candles and into chatting, eating, and drinking. When my friend Gina was doing Tastefully Simple, too, there was a lot of fun to be had.

I just LOVE these products, though. Sniff.

The online events they have now aren’t as much fun for me, but I appreciate how much work people go to so that their events are engaging and fun for people who like guessing games and the community-building questions.

Most of the people I know who’ve done MLMs have been sincere people who needed to make some money from home. The sales pitches from consultants who recruit new ones are also very good. It’s easy to see how the prospect of recruiting someone else and making money from that would be enticing, especially if you have few other options. Building up a “team” is the “multi-level” part and what makes me uncomfortable.

Random sampling of MLM lotions I happen to have within arms’ reach.

That’s where I always drew the line. I don’t care HOW much I liked something, I was NOT going to sell it to others or recruit friends. I didn’t mind spending my own money on something “frivolous,” but didn’t like trying to get my friends to spend their money. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been begged to sell products I like and use myself.

*One Time I Did Join Something

Confession time. I like essential oils. The chemistry is really interesting to me. I like diffusing them, smelling them, and in some cases, ingesting them (I am also familiar with caveats about them, so no need for lectures). When I started buying lots of them from my friend Sara, who also really likes them, she said I really needed to become a consultant, or whatever they call them, so I can get the products at the lower cost. As I tend to go through them pretty fast, that made sense.

I’ve got hundreds of these kinds of things. Oops.

I’ve been a doTerra consultant for at least 4 years now. I have sold two items at retail. I have recruited no one. I get stuff for me, my family, and my friends. And, I guess I will have to stop soon, for reasons I’ll eventually get to, as I ramble along.

I Gotta Live My Principles

Back to the beginning, reading what V was saying about her friends going into deep debt, and knowing the debt some of my own friends have gotten into, it became clear that when I was “helping” friends by buying things, I really wasn’t helping, just encouraging them to get deeper into the MLM world, getting them more and more pushy, insistent about you buying their wares, and becoming “assholes,” as V put it. I’d say acting like assholes, since these are people I like.

The online MLM pressure is really getting out of hand, and I don’t think it’s healthy at this point, if it ever was. These are NOT small businesses, they are people making money for other people, up and up a pyramid. I can’t do it anymore, so I will have to go cold turkey on some things I really like (I don’t know if I can give up my R+F skin care stuff though; it really works).

So, friends, if you really start up a new business, I’ll buy something. And if you are one of my few friends who does really well with MLM, I salute you. I just know how hard it is when you are stuck with hundreds or thousands of dollars of inventory with no one to sell it to, because you’ve alienated everyone you know. I don’t want to encourage that to happen to more people I care about.

If you’re thinking about going into one of these things to pay for gifts, or whatever, remember what V says in her blog post:

If a business exists solely on social media, that is a red flag.

If a business relies on your initial investment to be a legitimate ‘boss’ that is a red flag.

If a business is teaching you how to get rich quick on social media, that is a red flag.

If a business relies on teaching someone how to teach someone how to teach someone, that’s a pyramid scheme.

(True story, while typing this I got a message from someone trying to sell off their inventory to cut their losses.)

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