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.
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.Facebook Friend
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.