I divert slightly from my norms to offer a thought on recent events, and the direction we seem to be headed. To begin I must ask the question:
What happens when you let go of the steering wheel of your car while moving at a high rate of speed? You might go straight, for a time, then a random stone, pot hole, or fresh roadkill could yet divert even the most calibrated and aligned vehicle, so off the edge you go..
There it is.. in a nutshell.. life.
In a perfect world, the roads are straight and not a speck of dust occupies our path. Blissfully, through eternity we would pass with neither deviation, nor would we be burdened by having to make choices. A perfect world would find humanity doing all the right things exactly.. and all the time. A perfect world would have no need, and frankly no tolerance for any form of randomness.
We have randomness however, and things happen that require our input. And over time, and through uncountable civilizations, all the while retaining the free will given to us by our creator, we have established guides, and principles which form the foundations of civil responsibility, and action. Those guides serve as limits that we either observe in a manner befitting our gift of choice, or the civilizations that we are a part of perish.
The Ten Commandments have provided an adequate plank for civilized society in western culture and must certainly be respected in some form for most others in order for them to flourish.
(1) There is but One God, You shall have no other gods before me , You shall not make for yourself an idol
(2) You shall not make wrongful use of the name of your God
(3) Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy
(4) Honor your father and mother
(5) You shall not murder
(6) You shall not commit adultery
(7) You shall not steal
(8) You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor
(9) You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife
(10) You shall not covet anything that belongs to your neighbor
The very foundation of civilization as we know it is essentially premised upon these 10 items. Even the most secular among us should recognize Seven of the Ten as worthy rules, that if broken do harm to family, community, and society as a whole. The first three should be noted however, as they point out a characteristic we have that seeks leadership and modeling.
Observing “One God,” as a guide, prevents us from throwing our trust entirely as we would our deity into a mere mortal who is imperfect as ourselves. Why should we follow blindly as perfect, that which is not perfect. We have been given free will, and to choose to abdicate our will to a false vision of perfection binds us to that imperfection.
Then, using gods name in vain (wrongful use) furthers the disconnect to the above precept. It provides a disrespect that obliges them to focus attention to others as more better than God. (or Perfection) Fundamentalists would describe it as “blaspheme,” and might describe it further as a tool for the devil to distract the will to false premises. In any event, it is socially destructive even on a secular level as it is most often used in a negative context, and promotes NO good will.
“The sabbath” in almost any of its incarnations throughout civilization means a “resting time” or a day or a season of rest. Prayer and communion is often a part of it. To “keep it holy,” as a reason to focus on the day perhaps, but the underlying message is that all good works, or WORK deserves rest. A recuperative and possibly a reflective period, the Sabbath serves in even those secular parts of our society as a break in our routine allowing perspective between work cycles.
The very reason I discuss these three, is that while not realizing it, we still must observe even the most abstract representations of these “rules,” or perish as a society that at the very least, is worth living in.1. Giving too much credit to the entertainer, or perhaps even a supposed “holy figurehead,” subjects us to not only our own failings, but compounds them with those that “idolized” person might have. How often have you had someone “judge you” on your supposed favorite actor or political figure? 2. Disrespect for God, reflects a disrespect for those who believe with their entire being of a perfect being. It works in the fabric of our culture as sand would work in fragile fibers, cutting and wearing thin, and finally unraveling. 3. There is a time to rest. If for our own mental sake, or for the spiritual attunement of a person deeply committed to finding perfection through God. Physiologically, and mentally we regenerate when we rest, and also, we then have an opportunity to communicate more personally with each other. Individuals who do not communicate, and thus do not understand each other will often be quarrelsome.
Even without a belief in God, these three items are important.
The Ten Commandments as a whole, are under constant attack however. The suggestion they are a religious set of beliefs only flies in the face of laws and tradition in some of the worlds nations which are quite agnostic or atheist. Yet relativists might attempt to persuade the confused adolescent or adult even, that such things matter not. “SIN, as it is, is merely relative to the situation,” by promoting adultery, in public venues, and condoning theft and immoral behavior by sometimes “heroes” of cinema routinely.
Our deception is so complete, that we ascribe human characteristics to animals, perhaps innocently enough, but then place a value on those same animals higher than what we place on human life.
We murder our own children, then call for a stop to life saving and enhancing measures, because of a perceived threat to a particular bird’s existence. Millions starve.
We publish our weaknesses as if to spread it, compound it, make it grow, so that all may revel in the luridness. And this makes it OK.
We reward abnormal behavior with a growing social normalizing of sloth, bigotry, and broken families. This in turn grows the same ever more.
And in the name of “Good,” our leaders take from those who still “cling” to the commandments, who still live with ethic and a desire for Godliness. Our leadership takes the perfection that mans hands have created. Produce, Effort, and Pure Will subjected to the whim of Destruction, Laziness, and Apathy.
Our leadership in the name of “goodliness” or “Godliness,” substitutes randomness and the imperfection of man for the tried, and highly successful commandments that have held up civilizations for eons.
Whether one believes in the commandments as a tool of God to teach perfection, though we might never obtain such a status, or the casual law abiding atheist, the commandments serve as a tool to advance the betterment of social norms, and provide a means in which we can interact more peacefully. Ignoring them, a society goes the way of the most recent “idol” worshiped, Michael Jackson, on the way forgetting God, reasonable standards, and its real heroes who deserve a little more credit.
Keeping our lives between the lines does require action. It requires a vigilance on our part knowing how to make the right decisions and using a base knowledge of what is right, or even moral. As the norms occur outside respectable behavior, and run contrary to the very foundation of what civil society is based on, it becomes increasingly harder to stay on an always changing path, between the ditches on that road we call life.