Sunday, April 24, 2005

The Ten Anti-Commandments

Dear Internet Diary,

Since I just got through trashing the Ten Commandments, I thought it might be a good idea to replace them with something. Not that it's needed; after all, wherever you are, there are local and federal laws. Whoever you are, you possess an inherent moral sense--if you experience perception. None of it beams down through a magical process. Values are not supernatural.

I would have made up a set of Ten, or Nine, or Thirty-Five Suggestions (suggestions, because value-judgements are contextural), but my nice husband Francois has made a set of Anti-Commandments :
1. Don't accept claims without evidence.
2. Make art according to your rational value-judgments.
3. We give power to words when we make them taboo. Destroying the taboo destroys the power of its words.
4. Work whenever you want.
5. Judge your parents and act accordingly.
6. Defend yourself against the initiation of force.
7. Relationships should be guided by the consent, values and needs of the individuals, not religious institutions.
8. When your life is in danger, think about your life first.
9. Anyone should be permitted to tell untruths about other people's lives, as long as they do not commit fraud in so doing, simply because determining truth and untruth is the responsibility of each individual.
10. Emotions are not a standard of knowledge. Treat emotions as they are - guides to your internal states. Don't repress or give into them, but treat them like any other fact.

I will not be writing a set of my own commandments, because I don't think it's something anyone else needs. It's up to you to know your principles, and prioritize them. What I would like to say, though, is that values need not be lofty, marble gods. Valuing the material is valuing your life and the world. "It's the little things" sounds like a pithy phrase, but it rings true. Those that cannot appreciate the nuances of the world are devaluing the world and life itself. They have every right to do so, but they aren't going to get a second chance if they realize what they've missed. I like a the quote from Peter Falk in Wings of Desire:
Here, to smoke, have coffee. And if you do it together it's fantastic. Or to draw: you know, you take a pencil and you make a dark line, then you make a light line and together it's a good line. Or when your hands are cold, you rub them together, you see, that's good, that feels good! There's so many good things!

Hang that on the courthouse walls.

Thanks for listening, diary.

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