Common Sense put into a list. Some people call them Rules for Living.
Whatever you call them, let’s give them a quick look:
1. There is but one God.
2. Worshipping a man-made-god is foolish.
3. Don’t use God’s name in vain.
4. Reserve one day a week for rest.
5. Honor your parents.
6. Do not murder.
7. Do not commit adultery.
8. Do not steal.
9. Do not lie.
10. Do not covet.
Virtually every religion has some kind of list of rules to live by.
Some are very long, and some are very detailed — or even archaic, if
kept in the original form. Wording aside, all those lists have
something in common: they are guidelines for the Do’s and Don’ts of
life in order for the people to whom they are addressed to know what
to do — or not do — and are a history lesson of sorts for all of us to
know what was acceptable behavior at the time they were drawn up and
throughout the years, as they were refined.
“The Ten Commandants” have stood the test of time — perhaps because
the Bible (whatever version) has stood the test of time, in that it is
not only still around, but still being used by those who have devoted
themselves to its teaching — and those commandments are most likely
familiar, in one way or another, to just about everyone on the face of
It’s easy to understand — and even agree with — rules that seem
logical at face value, and stand up to critical analysis; rules like
“Look both ways before crossing a street” can only be helpful, whether
we choose to obey or not. We all know the rules that we’ll always — if
not just most always — obey; but we also know some rules that we find
inconvenient, nonsensical, nonessential, pesky, or downright
ridiculous and we are not afraid to say so, and will disobey them
every chance we get. (Mace Yampolsky occasionally writes about crazy
laws in his weekly column in this paper; and while many laws reflect
rules for living, not all rules for living are “the law.”) For
example, regarding the commandments at the beginning of this column,
when was the last time you heard of someone being cited — or arrested
— for working seven days a week, or for using any version of God’s
name or title as an exclamation of pain or stupidity when accidentally
hitting his thumb with a hammer? Or “worshipping” at the altar of
money (as in greed, financial desire above all else, work-work-work,
no time for family or love, etc.)?
There are rules and laws for living, whether or not they are carved in
stone somewhere and whether or not they have been passed by official
lawmakers in Congress. Some have a hefty price attached to the
breaking of them, to be exacted through the legal system; some will
“simply” cause you misery and pain, and some are far more subtle,
causing you and others to feel the ramifications long after the deed
So why am I writing about all this today? Well, on Saturday, September
21, someone out there in the neighborhood of the U.S. Supreme Court in
Washington D.C. knocked over an 830-lb. stone monument of The Ten
Commandments that had been sitting in a garden outside the Christian
ministry headquarters of Faith and Action since 2006.
Now here’s the question: What does this say to us? What is the
message? That someone does not like stone monuments, the headquarters
of Faith and Action, or replicas of The Ten Commandments? That someone
feels The Ten Commandments have no place in that neighborhood, near a
government building, or any place at all out in public? That it’s a
reminder to keep “church” and “state” far removed from one another?
That someone is anti-Christian or anti-religion and doesn’t want to be
in any way reminded that maybe there really is a God and maybe we’d do
well to follow certain rules? That someone was so fed up with religion
of any kind that he had to take it upon himself to keep all that
“#@%$&# religious stuff” in its place, which means out of that
neighborhood or city for a start?
Now here’s another question or two: Can anyone think of one reason why
we might have separated from England in the first place? Can anyone
think of one reason why we enacted the First Amendment to the
The very words “religion” and/or “God” might be anathema to some
individuals or groups, and that is okay. The not okay part of that
situation would be that those who choose to be anti-religion or
anti-God or anti-all-people who believe in God, worship God, or follow
the teachings of their religious leaders, do not allow for those who
are “pro” God.
Consider this: What would it take for the vandal(s) who toppled that
monument to feel good about that deed on a permanent basis? To have it
never be restored to its former place? To have all such monuments
everywhere be removed? To have all churches and synagogues and mosques
permanently closed and given up for some secular purpose? To have all
people who believe in whatever god or God it is they believe in run
out of town, or banned from public acknowledgment of their god/God?
What would it take?
So getting back to the original list at the beginning of this column,
let’s look at each item in another, deeper, way:
1. Since we obviously didn’t create ourselves, who did create us? Is
not that entity (let’s say God, for lack of a different word) worth
some serious attention and acknowledgement?
2. If that above-named God-entity is “at the top,” why would we
bother worshipping entities that are down on a human or sub-human
level, or entities that are supposedly “special” in some way, yet are
still logically subject to that one God-entity “at the top,” as the
one source of all.
3. That top entity has a name; just as you might be called different
names by different people, so too is our source subject to many names.
Honor that and don’t belittle each other’s name for that source. And
don’t toss around that name without regard for who it belongs to.
4. We don’t need a law or rule to tell us to take time off, on a
regular basis, for our own health, refreshment and peace of mind; but
while we’re doing so, how can it hurt to give a thought to the source
that made us? (Religion would have you keep it as a holy day; common
sense suggests it is good for the body and spirit to take a break from
your usual work routine.)
5. The “dysfunctional” family seems to the norm these days, and
blaming the parents is what we do. We don’t have to live in the same
house with them or call them every day, but being open to any useful
or sincere communication from them, helping them when they need it, we
can do it and it is for their good, is a good thing. And wishing them
well with our minds, our hearts, and our words can’t hurt either. We
are more or less told not to go out of our way to hurt them, but we’re
not expected to put ourselves in harm’s way by dealing with them,
6. Murder is not the same thing as killing. Murder always has
intent. And it is not for the good of the one being murdered.
7. If you had a prized possession — let’s say the car of your dreams
— how would you feel if someone took it out for a spin while you were
sleeping, or took it joyriding every other night without your
knowledge? People, of course, are not possessions; they are infinitely
more valuable. “Borrowing” another’s spouse may sound humorous, but
the damage runs deep. Without adding another layer of do’s or don’ts
to this one “rule,” just consider letting the spouse cut the ties
before the “borrowing” takes place.
8. Stealing is not the solution, no matter what you think.
9. Lying about anyone is not a good idea. How would you feel if
others lied about you?
10. Envy gets you nowhere but into trouble; do not even think about
taking what another has.
Not believing in God is no crime. But trying to make your point by
prohibiting the free exercise of someone else’s belief, or trying to
establish a “no-religion” religion, or expecting all believers to go
“underground,” as it were, is pretty much the height of ego. You might
just as well wear a sign proclaiming, “Because I don’t believe in God,
or religion, or rules for living, I’m claiming that none of that
exists or matters, that all I need is me.”
Well, good luck with that!
I’m sure there are forces out there paying attention to you. One is
called Karma. The other is called… Oh, but you don’t believe in that
Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune. She
writes a weekly column in this newspaper. To contact Maramis, email
her at email@example.com.