Last night in Ottawa the peace tower and parliament hill where lit up with fireworks, pictures of Frosty the snowman and other “festive” images to help people celebrate the holidays. Now I can’t say for sure of course, I watched a few moments on tv, but I doubt there was even one image of a manger, a baby, angels or three wise men. Ok, finding three wise men in Ottawa is no easy task so I’ll overlook that. The buildings that where illuminated by pyrotechnics and fancy projectors contains evidence of the faith of the founders of this country that built it and millions still cling today. That faith begins with the celebration of the birth of Christ. Something totally ignored by people who put the display together.
I see this as a symptom of a far greater problem. Even if you are not a believer, there is no doubt that our country is founded on the Judeo/Christain ethic, and at the heart of that ethos, you find the ten commandments. Now these set of rules to live by, are what has governed our affairs since before the founding of our nation and I think that it is not a coincidence that the farther from them we drift, the worse our problems become.
One of the bedrocks of our culture that has been severely damaged over the last four or five decades is the idea that the nuclear family is the center or lynch pin of our society. Things that used to be held as virtues and standards to live by have either been so watered down or completely swept aside much to our degradation. Examples of this are so numerous that to list them all would take far more patience than either you or I have, but let me cite just a two. Fidelity within marriage. It used to be that having an affair was the worst thing a spouse could do to their mate short of outright murder that could be conceived of. Affairs certainly did happen, but when they where discovered, careers where ruined, lives shattered, and homes torn apart. Today on the other hand, it is almost a badge of honour to engage in sexual promiscuity outside of the marital bed. There are even websites like Ashley Madison who’s whole reason for existence is to make money encouraging people to have an affair.
Another example is the old adage:
“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.”
How many people today have even heard of Ernest Hemingway, let alone the quote that compels a man to continuous self improvement? Today an idea like this is considered “quaint” by those in power, but certainly nothing to apply to oneself. The idea of being a gentleman with great strength of character and a quite courage isn’t even discussed anymore so is it any surprise that our contemporary leaders are so morally bankrupt? They are nothing more than an accurate reflection of the culture they where formed in.
When you overlay the loss of our traditional values and the adherence to those rules carved in stone, it is easy to understand why there is so much trouble not only here at home, but across much of the western world. Having said that, it would seem logical that in order to reverse the course our culture is on we need to return to those values that have served us so well for so long. For who could argue that teaching children the value of honesty, integrity and developing one character? Even an atheist would have to admit that following these rules would make for a much more secure and peaceful place to live whether you believe in their divine authorship or not.
The ten commandments are really nothing more than a set of rules for being a good neighbour. And in that nugget of truth lies the simplicity and beauty of those ancient admonishments. Would it be so bad to return to having them in our schools and public places? I would suggest it wouldn’t hurt and who knows? It just might make things a little bit better.