There’s a segment on the BBC Radio 2 Jeremy Vine Show called ‘What Makes Us Human’ where a notable guest reads out an essay they wrote about their take on the topic.
This past week the guest was Dame Stephanie Shirley, labelled on Wikipedia as a British information technology pioneer, businesswoman and philanthropist; she’s basically our version of Bill Gates it seems. Her theme for the topic was ‘Giving’, and as always I found the views insightful. She began the piece my acknowledging how many of the big-name religions hold the importance of giving but do so in various ways; some by giving money, time, emotional support, supporting charities, or supporting individuals, etc.
After reading out their essay the guests then participate in an interview. I think it was during the essay itself that “Steve” as she is also known, mentioned that she only subscribes to the last six of the Ten Commandments. Incidentally the Ten Commandments are said to have been given to the people of Israel by way of Moses, who wrote them on stone tablets and these were then stored in the Ark of the Covenant which I have been reading about (again) recently in the form of a book by Graham Hancock. The Commandments are now found in the Bible although a similar list is found in the Quran.
I can never remember exactly what the Commandments are so I looked them up and list the six here:
5) Honour your father and your mother.
6) You shall not murder.
7) You shall not commit adultery.
8) You shall not steal.
9) You shall not give false testimony against your neighbour.
10) You shall not covet your neighbour’s house, wife, or property.
I think this list is one that everyone should be able to adhere to without too much trouble, although the last one can be tricky if we are prone to jealousy or our neighbours seem to be people that have everything we wish we had, but struggle to afford. Number nine might be a challenge if we like gossiping.
But what of the first four that aren’t subscribed to by the Dame?
1) You shall have no other gods before Me.
2) You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything.
3) You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.
4) Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.
These to me are what make the modern West a problem and upon first glance seem beyond understanding by today’s world, which is perhaps why Dame Steve chooses the other six to adhere to. I’ll try and explain why I think 1-4 can reveal the problems with the modern West, although I admit a lack of clarity in either my thinking or ability to explain it.
- We make other people priorities (before whatever God is). Idolising celebrities and bowing down to politicians etc.
- We idolise things; we subject ourselves and are subjected to materialism, and in the vicious cycle we encourage others to do the same; branded clothing and big brand gadgets all feature here.
Here is a quote from the film (also a book) A Monster Calls, which I think is quite fitting:
“Belief is half of all healing. Belief in the cure. A belief if the future that awaits. Your belief is valuable, so you must be careful where you put it, and in whom.”
- We misuse the terms relating to God, whoever or whatever this is. Again we do this through materialism with the claim that certain things will make us happy, such as the latest car or gadget, holiday or item of clothing.
- We fail to keep a day of rest; now working a full seven days including Saturdays and Sundays, public and religious holidays; we expect shops to be open on these days and service to be available even if we wont work them ourselves. There is no rest for the wicked.
Perhaps if we fully understand, appreciate and adhere to (and encourage everyone else to adhere to) the first four Commandments, we can set the world back on a right path.