Many of us are familiar with the Ten Commandments that appear in Exodus, the second book of the Bible, written some thirty-three hundred years ago. What do these commandments say? The first four have to do with a god and the Sabbath. The remaining six are about behavior. We are told to honor our parents and to not murder, steal, lie, commit adultery, or covet.
We would all agree that we have learned a few things in the last thirty-three hundred years. It may be that instead of the Ten Commandments, we require just three simple rules for living that say and do more than these ten. If we followed these three simple rules-seven words-we would eliminate the majority of problems and suffering in our world (problems that the Ten Commandments don’t even address). It’s of interest to note that none of these three rules appear in the Ten Commandments.
The first is be healthy. We are, each of us, like a cell in the body of humanity. The health of all of us taken together determines the health of our species and civilization. These bodies and minds in which we live may be the most exquisite “machines” on the planet. We abuse them in ways we wouldn’t dream of doing to our material possessions like our cars, computers, or our homes. Yet, our bodies and minds are our homes. Perhaps the reason that we don’t value them more is that we get them for free. We are given these most prized possessions at birth. By the time we realize their value, for many of us, it is very late if not too late. Be healthy. When we are, it is easier to follow the second simple rule.
The second rule is be kind. The Ten Commandments instruct us to honor our parents, which is fine. Aside from that they tell us not what to do but what not to do: thou shall not murder, steal, lie, commit adultery, or covet. In all our relationships, what we need to do is simply to be kind. We need to treat each other, our friends and neighbors, better. We must stop exploiting each other. It doesn’t matter how much money we have or earn, what size house we live in, what kind of car we drive, how many academic degrees we may have accumulated, what accomplishments we may have achieved, or what our title or position is. Nor does it matter what our gender, race, religion, age, national origin, sexual orientation, or political affiliation is. What matters is whether or not we are kind to one another.
The third simple rule is respect the environment. In every conceivable way, we are linked to our environment. We evolved from it. Everything comes from our environment. If we destroy our environment, we destroy ourselves. Ecological systems will regenerate but we will be gone. Nature, which couldn’t care less about us, will have eliminated us. It’s that simple.
Three rules, seven words. If we follow them, our lives will change. As many of our lives change our world changes. Be healthy. Be kind. Respect the environment. If you wish to astonish the whole world, tell people that – the simple truth.
…to be continued.