In my last post, I pointed out the obvious flaws with the Ten Commandments. If I’m so smart and know so much then why don’t I create my own Ten Commandments? If the old commandments are so bad then what should they have said? Am I just or a moaner who complains about everything or can I offer constructive criticism? So here is my attempt at a better 10 commandments. I think it says a lot that a mere mortal, still in his youth could improve on rules supposedly given by God.
Okay, what should be taken into consideration in making rules for society? There should strict prohibition of the worst in humanity and encouragement of our noble characteristics (a problem with the originals is that they are all negatives with the threat of punishment, there is no encouragement). Knowledge, love and compassion should be encouraged while fear, hatred and ignorance should be condemned. Secondly, I am working with the benefit of history. I can sculpture these commandments to avoid the great evils that have plagued humanity, those of war, hate, racism, sexism, homophobia, sectarianism and xenophobia. If I were to try and change the world, I would add commandments to help our fellow humans and not let the lords’ feast while the peasants starve. I would try and avoid the worst abuses of religion and nationalism, the cruelty of slavery and the gas chambers.
I want to add the modern wisdom we have discovered and share humanity a lot of suffering in the process. What if democracy had been the norm thousands of years ago? What if people had valued human rights we take for granted today? In this I turn to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for inspiration. It is a far superior document to the bible and a strong case for the triumph of humanism over religion.
1. Judge someone not on the colour of their skin but on the content of their character
2. Treat women the same as you treat men. Make them bear no burden you would not bear yourself
3. Do not divide yourselves based on where you are from, what nationality you are, we are all humans
4. Judge your life based on how much you have helped humanity, through wisdom, charity and joy
5. Always think of the less well off, society will be judged not on its rich and important people, but on how it treats the poor and powerless
6. Always question authority
7. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, speech and expression. The world has no more right to silence the individual than the individual has the right to silence the world
8. Everyone has the freedom of association and to organise
9. Everyone has the right to elect their leaders and law makers in free and fair elections. The right to govern comes directly from the will of the people
10. Everyone has the right to a fair trial and to be presumed innocent until proven guilty
The first three commandments are a condemnation of (1) racism, (2) sexism and (3) nationalism. The first commandment is deliberatively reminiscent of Martin Luther King. Racism and nationalism have been major causes of war and violence, while sexism has subjected half the population to unnecessary hardships. It calls on men to share the burden. The fourth commandment is more advice. The most important thing in life is to help others and make their lives better. This can be done literally through charity, but also by adding to the stock of knowledge and making new discoveries. Simply being a good friend helps people more than anything. The fifth commandment is to avoid the mistake of history where a small handful lived in opulence while the rest of humanity lived in degrading poverty. We judge the Middle Ages not on the splendour of the royal court or the majesty of the cathedrals, but on the desperation of the peasants.
Never given into dogma and accept things unquestionably. Always challenge the powers that be and never accept mediocrity. Hold the powerful accountable. No matter who says it, never simply accept it, but rather always question it. From 7-10 the clear influence of the UDHR can be seen, in particular Articles 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, (10th Commandment) 18, 19 (7th Commandment) 20, (8th) 21 (9th). The second half of the 7th commandment is based upon a quote from John Stuart Mill and would be an antidote to the plague of censorship. Between them they are the hallmarks of a liberal democracy and are the rights our society is based upon. Imagine if 3,000 years ago these rights were given to Moses? Imagine if they had the democracy, the right to free speech, to vote, to form political parties, to form a union and to a fair trial? Imagine dictatorships trying to overcome these hurdles? If these rules had been adopted 3,000 years ago, the world would have jumped into a prosperous and tolerant future.