10Cs for the Church of Tolerance
I was raised a Catholic. But I was also encouraged to think, so I guess I turned out ok. As a kid, the concept of God was easy to understand. My childhood was peppered with movies and stories that had black and white concepts of good and bad. The hero was the kindhearted, strong-willed, family loving, responsible citizen who only wanders out of his shell of goodness to beat up armed local goons with his bare hands to save a heroine in distress. And the villain was always the ugly hearse-voiced misogynist crook who steals from orphans and shouts at his servants. The concept of God was easy to digest. God is the embodiment of all good. He likes you if you’re good. He doesn’t, if you are bad. Not too different from the heroes I knew, except God doesn’t beat up armed local goons with his bare hands to save heroines in distress.
But with the introduction of the Ten Commandments, the black and whites started to fade. You can’t just be good. You need to be more. God has written out rules for you to follow. If your neighbor lives a life of goodness, but prays to… say Joe Pesci, as the late great George Carlin did, then God’s going to be displeased. If you work on Sundays, you’re toast… well, toasted in hell for eternity, at least. I don’t know if you ever come out crispy.
Eternity is a confusing thing. Learning about the Ten Commandments was a milestone in my life. For me, the 10C marked the beginning of red tape. Bureaucratic stumbling blocks on the path to God. And I could see God wasn’t a universal entity anymore. We had the Christian God, the Greek Gods, the Hindu God, the Islamic God, the guitar gods, and the like.
If you look into human history, mankind has excelled in the art of finding differences. In addition to religion, we have also split ourselves over race, color, caste, geography, country, belief, faith, age, gender, disabilities, thoughts, power, habits, fashion, language and community. And in the unlikely event that we run out of reasons, we’ll invent brand new ones. It’s human nature. We’re illimitable innovators in internal segmentation. And this applies even to the 10Cs.
I have come to believe in a modified set of the commandments. Something for every theist. And I’m going to call this the start of The Church of Tolerance. (I call it a church, but I’m open to calling it other names… temple, house, altar… I’m game.)
The Church of Tolerance
The tenets are basically what’s outlined by the following commandments. I wouldn’t claim that these are officially sanctioned by God, in the sense that he came down and shook my hand for it. But I’m quite certain any benevolent God worth his salt would agree to the principles.
The Ten Commandments
- I am your God. If you don’t think so, don’t sweat it. I’m not egoistic. And I’m definitely not petty.
- Thou shalt not kill. No, not on any count. Well, if you choose to whack mass murderers and child rapists, I’ll look the other way, but when in doubt, leave the knife at bay.
- Thou shalt tolerate. Different beliefs, different thoughts, ideals, race, color, gender, and anything else. It’d be ideal if you love each other, but at the very least, tolerate.
- Thou shalt not preach. If you feel someone needs to be educated, teach. Even I’m getting tired of preaches.
- Thou shalt not judge. Unless, of course, you’re a judge. Well, ok, you can judge some of the time, just don’t make a habit of it.
- Thou shalt not laugh so hard at other people’s beliefs and faiths unless you’re able to do that with your own faith as well. Ok, so maybe this doesn’t apply to Scientology or that other religion that believes in magic underwear.
- Thou shalt not steal. No, not even obscure songs. You know who I’m talking about, Pritam. Remember, I know where you live.
- Thou shalt respect thy elders by default… because thou shalt assume them deserving. If they offer proof that they are not, well, thou can change your position later on.
- Thou shalt not get upset that the 9th commandment is basically just a filler. Granted, 10 is a nice, round number, but we don’t always have to round to the nearest ten.
- Thou shalt NOT use the 10 commandments to dictate thy life, and DEFINITELY not to dictate someone else’s life. It’s just a guideline.
In short, “Live and let live”. Any takers for the Church of Tolerance?