Okay. If you’re a true believer, you may want to look away now. I’m about to take a swipe at the Ten Commandments (but you guessed that already, didn’t you, you clever little devils?). I’m not doing it because I’m anti-Christianity. Far from it. My kids go to a Catholic school, and I’m all for just about every aspect of their education – except for that whole “Congratulations Billy, you’re the last winner!” business. That’s just a wank.
No, I’m writing this because I got to remembering George Carlin, whose message to parents to teach their kids to question what they read, and in fact to teach them to question everything, really struck a chord with me.
Now I know all this might sound like heresy, and well, I guess it is, but there’s a reason for it. I know my kids are smart. I know they’re going to challenge authority. More power to them when they do it, by the way, but when they do, I hope they don’t do it just because they’re being obstinate. I hope they challenge authority with arguments which are well-constructed and logical. There will come a time in their religious studies when the Ten Commandments are discussed, and I just know my kids, especially the younger of the two, will pop their hands up in the air to “discuss” just how rock solid these rules are.
My eldest has already asked me what they are, and I’ve put off answering her (mostly because of the adultery thing), but I think it won’t be long before she and I chat about them, and I hope my explanation goes something like this:
The Ten Commandments are really just a set of rules by which we should all try to live. They’re mostly just about doing the right thing, but if you want analyse them, here, read the Bible. I have, and do again occasionally, or at least bits of it for reference, and when I get to this bit, this is what I think.
- I am the Lord thy God
Oh yeah? Of course he’s going to say that. He’s the one handing out the commandments to some poor fellow who’s been wandering around up the top of a mountain for forty days and nights. And why is it always forty? Bit needy and insecure if you ask me. The Indian gods all seem to recognise each other and don’t carry on with all that “I’m the best” kind of crap.
I call this bullshit on this one. That’s a fail rate of 1 out of 10 so far
- Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image
Why not? And, by the way, just look how that one’s turned out. There are crosses in every church, often adorned with a skinny bloke who looks like he’s having a really bad day. Stained glass windows, carvings and what not are scattered about too. You name it, it’s there. People are using these images whether you like it or not, Mister I’m the only God.
Same deal as number 1. Fail rate of 2 out of 10.
- Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord in vain
Okay, so you’re telling us to watch our language. Hang on, how many times have you cursed people and even your own angels? Bit of hypocrisy there, old chap.
Fail rate 3 out of 10.
- Remember the Sabbath day , and keep it holy
Alright. I’ll give you that one. I work five to six days a week as it is. Sunday is special to me. I get to sit down with my wife and have eggs on toast for half an hour before the reality of the rest of the day kicks in. The lawn needs mowing, there’s washing to do, play-dates, miscellaneous other housework. Hang on, Monday better hurry up. I need to go to work so I can get some rest.
Fail rate 4 out of 10
- Honour thy father and mother
Makes sense… I hope. If it turns out that I can’t handle them when they get older and have to put them in a nursing home, then you’ve got a pretty good idea of what my kids are going to do to me when I’m old and doddery.
Hey, lookit here! We got one right. Score 1 for the good side. So that’s 4 fails, 1 pass out of 10.
- Thou shalt not murder
Let’s define “murder”, shall we? I take it to mean killing another human without reason. Hang on, whose reason? Mine or someone else’s? If I’m a soldier and, following orders, I kill another soldier from an opposing armed force, am I a murderer? I had no reason to kill that soldier other than that I was just doing as I was told and if I didn’t, I’d be court marshalled.
1 for the good side, 5 against.
- Thou shalt not commit adultery
Dude, not only do I not have the inclination, I don’t have the time, money or energy. That said, I know plenty of folk who have strayed. 2 passes, 5 fails.
- Thou shalt not steal
Really? Not ever? And define “steal.” I’ve got a collection of little soaps from hotel rooms. Does that make me a thief, or am I taking those things, just as the hotels wanted me to do in the vain hope I’ll return to their fine establishments? That’s 6 fails, and 2 passes out of 10.
- Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour
Hang on. I can’t lie about my neighbour. Is it okay for me to tell porky pies about complete strangers, or people who live on the other side of town? Why does the proximity of their domicile make what I say about them a sin or not? That’s 7 fails, and 2 passes out of 10.
- Thou shalt not covet.
Huh? Sorry dude. I was raised in a merchant family. I’m fourth generation in the family footwear business (5th if you count the granary and mill that gave rise to the shoe shop). Profit has always been our main motivator. We’re in this business to make money. What’s wrong with wanting things other people have, or even wanting better things than other people have? We want nice things. We want to provide for our families. If nobody else has nice things, the likes of which I’d like too, then why would we work? This one doesn’t make sense, and between you and me, I think it’s probably why socialism never really works.
Bullshit again. So with 8 fails out of 10, and only 2 that actually make sense, albeit in a kinda twisted way, the whole 10 commandments should really be taken with a grain of salt.
How about we all agree to try to be nice to each other, not force our own beliefs down other people’s throats or blow them up, and that if there is a higher power, being a good person is all we really have to do to stay in his or her good books?
There. I’ll leave you all now and just watch as the hate mail begins to pour in.