What are your Ten Commandments? Or how about just your top three? Having some daily rules to live by can help with everything from practical relations with others to calibrating our moral compass.
On Monday when a few of our church members participating in the “Let My People Vote” rally visited our representatives at the State Capitol to express our concern and suggestions for voting rights legislation, Texas Impact, the non-partisan, interfaith organization hosting the event, provided us with their “Ten Commandments of Legislative Visits.” A few of them: Thou shalt not fail to introduce thyself. Thou shalt not be a jerk. Thou shalt not threaten. Thou shalt not exceed five minutes. Those guidelines helped us have cordial conversations with our state reps and their staffers while also making it clear to them how passionate we were about making access to the ballot easier and safer, not more difficult and dangerous, for all eligible voters in Texas.
In a book by Carol Kilby called Evolutionary Dancer, which chronicles the former minister’s experiences leading, leaving, and returning to the church after having started a spiritual retreat center for people from various socioreligious and spiritual backgrounds, Kilby offers her own commandments formed along her journey: You shall not make idols of humanity, profits, or progress. You shall not kill—forests or oceans, soils or atmosphere, bees or any beings. And the one that resonates most with me: You shall not steal Earth’s resources from your grandchildren’s future.
Whether they are commandments for legislative visits, commandments for what Kilby calls our “evolutionary wisdom,” or the actual Ten Commandments, they all have to do with relationship—our relationship with one another in our community, with the most vulnerable among us, with strangers who come into the neighborhood, with the earth and its environment that is essential to all of us, and with those that will come after us. Having some healthy commandments for daily living, then, are not just tips to make me a better person in my own mind; they are pointers for making us better people in relation to and with one another for the sake of the whole community and the vastness of creation we share.
I have a few commandments. You shall tell people you love them consistently and frequently. You shall not go to bed angry. You shall not only recycle, but also use less products to be recycled. You shall not sell yourself or others short. You shall listen, for to listen is to love.
I’ve got others, but I wanted to share some of the ones I try to live by on a daily basis. Putting those commandments of mine out there like that also ratchets up the accountability, and maybe it will encourage you to share some of your rules to promote good living with others. Generosity breeds generosity after all. And we all need good living—to live well with and toward one another as a communal witness to the words of Jesus: “I have come that they would have life, and have it to the fullest.”