There was a story last week that got my attention. Lech Walesa, former president of Poland and a great hero in my book (but not on this point), said that what we need today is a “secular Ten Commandments.” He said this to a group of Nobel Peace Prize winners in Warsaw.
The Judeo-Christian tradition holds that God wrote the Ten Commandments with His own finger. The Golden Rule, another great law in history, comes from the lips of Jesus (Matt. 7:12).
The Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule have helped undergird Western law, since the days of Justinian I (482-565), who ruled Byzantium (the eastern half that outlived the western half of the Roman Empire by a millennium), and British King Alfred the Great (849-899).
Like Christ’s Golden Rule, the Ten Commandments have stood the test of time.
But now Mr. Walesa says: "We need to agree on common values for all religions as soon as possible, a kind of secular Ten Commandments on which we will build the world of tomorrow."
Walesa led the Solidarity movement in Poland in the early 1980s. He dared to challenge Communism and lived to see its demise in his native country. In the words of Radio Moscow at the time, he was the leader of the “Counter-Revolutionaries.” He made history in a positive way.
But this idea of “a secular Ten Commandments” is really a type of oxymoron.
Any person, any nation, any group of united nations, can come up with a list of rights and wrongs. The question is: How do you hold people accountable to abide by those rules?
You may recall that about 20 years ago, media mogul Ted Turner, who has often taken anti-Christian stances, said that we need a new Ten Commandments.
Turner went further than Walesa in that he actually wrote up his new ten suggestions. Or as he called them, “Ten Voluntary Initiatives.”
When I mentioned Turner’s rules in a book, I thought it might be good to list them out (at least as an endnote). So, before the days of widespread Internet access, I traveled to the main library of Ft. Lauderdale and found them on microfiche in an obscure humanist magazine article.
I have mentioned Turner’s rules from time to time in some public speaking engagements. I have asked people, if they even remember the story. Usually, one or two hands may go up (out of, say, 50 people). Then I’ll ask the one or two who remembers the story (even vaguely) if they can name any of Turner’s “secular Ten Commandments,” if you will. No one can. No, not one.
Here’s a hint, more than one of them says be nice to the environment.