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For God’s sake

Let’s get something straight from the start. I see nothing wrong in posting the Ten Commandments in a classroom – any classroom – though I would not want to be the teacher explaining to a kindergartner why they can’t covet their neighbor’s wife. While these commandments do not represent every culture in any given classroom anywhere in America, they do represent the general gist that most cultures provide in one manner or another on living together as a community in peace.

The Ten Commandments are not civil law except for a couple. If they were all the law, one of our presidential candidates would be in real trouble with #10. What they create is a way to live together, something apparently the ancient Hebrews needed. I guess wandering together in the dessert for 40 years can get on your nerves and you need some guidelines to get you out in one piece as a united community.

Nothing in these commandments should really upset anyone as most cultures have some variation of them to guide their communities. So, sitting in a classroom with them on a wall shouldn’t, to my mind, really upsent anyone. It’s not forcing religion down their throats. It’s merely highlighting what one religion felt was important for living together in peace.

Here’s the thing though. If we hang these commandments in classrooms, we should rotate them with the “commandments” from other dominant religions in America so that everyone gets a chance to see just how alike we are in what we think is important. For instance, here are some commandments from the Qu’ran. See if any seem familiar to you:

“I am God; there is no god but I, the Merciful, the Compassionate.

  • [1] You shall not associate anything with Me,
  • [2] You shall not murder a human.
  • [3] You shall not commit adultery.
  • [4] You shall not steal.
  • [5] You shall not dishonour your parents!”

Here are ten sins from Hinduism, which does not have commandments but has a very strict moral code of conduct for life:

  • Lust or desire for sensual pleasure – काम – Kama.
  • Anger – क्रोध – Krodha.
  • Greed – लोभ – Lobha.
  • Attachment – मोह – Moha.
  • Ego – मद – Mada.
  • Envy or Jealousy – मत्सर्य – Matsarya.

Some look kind of familiar, don’t they?

I guess I don’t see why a child of any religion should turn away from a poster with the Ten Commandments when those same rules apply to them, even if the emphasis is a bit different. But I do understand why parents who practice those other religions would wonder why their commands aren’t also hanging up somewhere in the school for all children to read and respect. Whether you call it lust, adultery or coveting your neighbor’s wife, it’s all the same thing in all those religions. It’s not allowed.

I find myself wondering if all these “good” Christians aren’t just a bit worried because most are supporting a presidential candidate who would have trouble getting into heaven based on the Hebrew Ten Commandments. They seem to feel everyone else but him should follow them.

Instilling a moral code into our children is a good idea, especially if it’s a code we follow whether or not it’s part of our legal system. But Christians need to stop thinking they are the only ones who have a moral code. Every major religion in the world has one and they are all remarkably similar.

So, let’s hang moral codes in all our schools – moral codes from every religion in America so that no matter where a student looks, he or she or they are confronted with the beliefs that allow human societies to exist. These are beliefs that all major religions possess – even Wiccans. Theirs is more simply stated. “If it harms none, do what you will.” The Rede, the Wiccan code, emphasizes an individual’s responsibility to prevent harm to others and creates personal responsibility.

So there you have it. We can paper the walls of all our schools with the moral codes that will turn students into good, honest citizens of a good honest state. Or, like I did when I was in Catholic school, the kids can just memorize and spit back out words and concepts barely understood but which, if repeated properly, gets you an A in religion class.

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