“This is not a request. This is an order.”

That is the movie version of today’s topic. The Sunday school version is the pupil’s question, “Is the rule against smoking a commandment?” People seem to need certainty. Preachers tend to say that the Decalogue is not “the ten suggestions.” Nevertheless, I shall demonstrate that in real life it doesn’t matter. A class for young children presented my favorite title for this: “the ten best ways.”

I was shocked in a Sunday School class when the teacher asked, “Do we need commandments?” I answered with a resounding “No!” and held under my breath the next part: “Who do you think we are?” I seemed to be the only one in the room who held my view. The rest seemed to hunger for certainty. Do they think I will ignore God’s advice and suggestions until he states them as commandments?

Picture that God is standing at the front of the classroom telling us that not smoking is the best way to health. Is anybody going to interrupt to ask whether that is a suggestion or a commandment? The formality of the rule does not even begin to matter. What matters is whether the practice is the best way. That is called the authority of truth. The power of a divine “suggestion” is its truth, not its procedure. Once I recognize it as the best way, I need no further persuasion. I will not fear Love.

This brief explanation shows that the term “commandment” is an unnecessary embellishment. Human genius (not blind obedience) follows every “best way,” including those that come by revelation. The school supplement reviews my upbringing and provides a secular counterpart to the slothful servant of this article.

In scripture, the slothful servant is one who must be commanded in all things. The business statement is that two kinds of employees are worthless: (a) those who will not do as they are told and (b) those who will do nothing else. You personally choose between being a zombie or automaton and being an independent constructive force.

Before his execution, Socrates asked the public to discipline his sons in his absence. Robert A. Heinlein said, “Do not handicap your children by making their lives easy.”  In article 33 I explained that my joy in learning comes without guilt over having been previously ignorant. Article 47 praised my parents for teaching me that complying was less important than understanding why I should comply.

Friday’s article 64 encouraged reader independence. You are able to grow here because the discussion is not a dogma imposed on you. Room to disagree protects your independence. You are not threatened by challenges you might encounter here; they help you grow.

Today we discussed a foundation of personal beliefs and business success. The independence principle is also a foundation of government. Article 56 showed that government is a way to cooperate, but progress results from voluntary individual commitment to improvement of society.

Internalizing the why takes care of implementing the what.

Image by S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay

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