So, I was doing my Sunday reading of Friday's Caymanian Compass, when I came across a small classified ad, listing the Ten Commandments. My initial reaction on seeing the ad was a sneer of the upper lip, and I proceeded to turn the page. Then, intrigued, I paused and made a conscious decision to read, absorb and break down the Commandments from my cynical societal perspective. I wanted to assess each Commandment symbolically, taking into account my relatively limited scope of many of the horrors and evils that pervade many societies, in addition to the positive and wonderful things that happen today that are never worthy of sensationalist press. Now, as an additional disclaimer, it should be noted that formal practiced religion and the concept of blind faith and I have a very distant and pessimistic relationship, but I have a lot of respect for biblical writings and interpretations, and am open to teachings of almost any denomination and faith. I’m just cool like that. I will also write on the premise that the Commandments are still applicable, as some denominations have deemed that they were ‘revoked’ by God, because of the murder of his son.
Now, hereby lies the Ten Commandments as broken down by ‘Fro, standard life teachings - moral and common sense - as taken from Exodus 20:1-7 (drum roll here).
1. Thou shall have no other gods before me.
Note the lower case reference to ‘gods’? This notion in itself is practically non-existent, as money, status and power appears to be the ultimate god, ruling and controlling mans interaction with man. On this note, will later reference the powerful impact that the money god, has on the practice of all other Commandments. Additionally, as we move towards globalisation and there is more interaction with other cultures and religion, societies are continually faced with conflict and confusion surrounding this Commandment. Hinduism, Sikhism, Wicca, Buddhism (some traditions), Agnosticism, Atheism, Humanism, etc. These religions worship many Gods, a different single God, two deities or no God.
2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in the heaven above (edited for content – look it up yourself)
So, what does this say for all the posters and debates raging about the blond haired, blue eyed Jesus; black Jesus, Jim Caviezel, pictures of Jesus on the Cross, etc? What of the religious bookstores that sell and profit from these items, (tying this back to Commandment #1)?
3. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
Scrap this one as it applies, as blasphemy is the order of the day. Society has reduced this to a ‘lesser evil’ in the grand scheme of things, something that appears to not even be noteworthy. I can remember as a child, taking the Lord’s name in vain was a HUGE playground transgression, whereby other kids would tattle or threaten to tattle on you if you did. We did not understand the origin or nature of this transgression at all times, but we knew that it was something baaadddd……
There are some things that I just do not mess with, out of some deep internal fear, and respect. I have a co-worker, that continually bellows "Jesus Christ!" each time that she is upset, and I cringe each and every time that she does.
4. Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy
Which one? Religions are in conflict if it should be Saturday or Sunday. The Cayman Islands have enforced a drinking and dancing law and a Sunday trading law that prohibits dancing on Sundays, as a measure of the powers-that-be enforcing Commandment #4 on its society. At 11:45pm each Saturday night, all clubs and bars are to cease and desist with the sale of alcoholic beverages, and all patrons must exit posthaste: Sunday is coming. Therefore, we ensure that we get as many drinks in as possible, when we hear the infamous “Last call to the bar”. Get drunk, drive home, and wake up to go to church on Sunday. On Sundays, we island natives can go to a local bar, and drink to our hearts’ content, to the tune of ‘soft’ background music, which must be played at a certain decibel, so as not to reduce the possibility of conversations while we sip or gulp on our drinks. It is illegal to dance in said establishment. Supermarkets are also closed on Sundays. Therefore, we cannot take or drunken selves to the grocery store after we leave the bar. Go figure.
5. Honor they father and thy mother
But do our fathers and our mothers honour us? Absentee fathers; microwaved babies; baby used as a baseball bat; drowning children in bathtubs; giving toddlers marijuana; murder suicides; incest…and the cycle will perpetuate itself.
6. Thou shalt not kill
Except: when fighting for oil; land; enforcement of religious doctrines; suffering from PMS; self defense; inheritance; eye for an eye. Societies have become so desensitised, that murder and death seems to be the order of the day, even manifesting itself in the games played by our children. Legislation and case law seem to be on a role for excusing every form of murder: they were abused; they are mentally incompetent; they are just children. We seldom weep and mourn, nor lobby and take to the streets for radical change and outcries against the atrocities that we commit against each other, except in the days of old when young and old, male and female used to gather in streets and yards to lynch black people for perceived wrongs, or when village inhabitants gather to stone young women for adultery or if they incited men to lust by showing their eyebrows. Sigh. Oh, for the good old days!
7. Thou shalt not commit adultery
Ha! This is the norm more than the exception! Wedding vows are transient at best, as interchangeable as our shoes or socks. I don’t even need to comment on this one anymore. Refer to Commandment #10.
8. Thou shall not steal
See comment on Commandment #6, and tie this back to Commandment #1 and the worship of money and status.
As a side note on white collar theft or embezzlement from organisations, I was also intrigued by the fact that most published convictions for embezzlement in the Cayman Islands seem to involve single mothers, between the ages of 25 and 35. I would think that this would be worthy of some form of impact study, in order to evidence the wheres and whys. This was further highlighted for me when a young lady was sentenced after embezzling funds to support her on-line gambling addiction (see commandment #10 to follow).
9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor
Except in instances of false identification, due to the fact that all black and Asian people look alike, or if thy neighbour is taking the fall for breaking commandments #8, 7 or 6; or if you cry out that a random black man car jacked you and drove off with your kids, inciting a possible public lynching of a random black man like in the god ol’ days. Refer to commandment #6.
10. Thou shalt not covet they neighbour’s house. Thou shalt not covet they neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbour’s.
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s oil, and incite war, terrorism and famine by baring false witness against thy neighbour, in a bid to obtain said oil.
Pertaining to the above, I was recently curious as to why gambling was deemed a ‘sin’ as it seemed to be self inflicted harm to the gambler and relatively harmless. I was intrigued to note that gambling was a form of coveting. I will not even mention church raffles at this point, and will have a little talk with DV when he gets back from Vegas next week.
So, in the grand scheme of things, this one can also be tossed out the window with the baby and the bathwater, because coveting is the norm, more than the exception. Newspapers, tabloids and MTV Cribs repeatedly punch us in the face with the fact that we are unworthy and poor in comparison to superstars and mega millionaires, driving us to implants, botox, liposuction, weaves, robbery and pillaging on a daily basis. Coveting thy neighbour’s wife’s ass has led to Commandment #’s 9, 8, 7, 6, 4, 3, and 1 being broken without a second thought.
In conclusion, for those of us with non-spiritual inclinations, even if we should take the religious aspect out of these life rules, they are wonderful guidelines under which we should live our lives. Maybe we should all reassess and reconstruct these moral teachings in order to live good lives and further strive to be good, happy and content human beings.
Therein lies my Sunday sermon. I shall now step down from my soap box, and exit on that note.