To my fondest adherents (mostly they are incarcerated),
So much is made of laws and customs and social morays, how without them it would be anarchy, chaos, or like shopping at Walmart on a Saturday morning when the grannies and families are out for bargains at the cost of someone else’s blood. I am not sure we really heed these laws and customs, or even “best practices” (there’s a load of crapola if I ever heard one). Bear with me while I bare down on the imagined argument I am about to lay out (figuratively, of course, because if I were to lay it out literally, it would involve using a lot of paper or white sheets and a movie projector and I don’t have a permit for that).
A common refrain I think I hear in my family as we either age or have sinus infections is “that’s how wars are started.” This refers quite simply to one party having misheard the other and a minor argument has ensued or shouting. Or the shouting is needed to repair the miscommunication because we’re all deaf or listening to something way too loud on our respective i-devices that Mr. Jobs gave us before he the cold finger of vegetarian death claimed him.
My point being miscommunication and mishearings are often at the heart of what’s wrong with the world (that’s not counting religious or political zealots, both of whom seem to like raising taxes). Oh sure, there have been some horrible occurrences in the past when the message was loud and clear (yes, I’m referring to Hitler, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Apartheid, Joe Stalin, Chairman Mao, or the owners of many sports teams).
Yet so much death and violence and ugliness could have been spared had we all just listened to each other, or turned on our hearing aids.
Let’s suppose for a minute that the story of Moses getting the word of God on Mt. Sinai actually happened. There are people out there on the globe who scoff at this story, others who believe it wholeheartedly, and many, many somewhere in Mongolia fondling an ox, or on a beach resort in Bali too blasted from the hedonistic hellishness from the night before to really give a rat’s ass about this. But let’s take this as a basis for Western culture’s biggest misunderstanding: The 10 commandments
I contend without any formal training or guidance, and possibly with one glass 10-year old of port too many and 23 nights too few of proper sleep that if we posit that Moses did receive the commandments lo those many weeks ago, he must have misunderstood something. If Hollywood is to be believed, when Moses was up there on the Mount, there was thunder, lightning, a burning shrub (most likely from the lightning, or maybe God tossed a lit cigarette uncaringly out of a cloud – smoking was much more acceptable back then).
It would follow logically that Moses, who by that time must have been dehydrated from climbing Mount Sinai without a Sherpa guide or oxygen tanks and a North Face jacket, was a little dizzy and maybe took down the commandments by shorthand and couldn’t read them afterward. Or more likely, in state of not having had a coffee on the Mount, misheard what God said due to early morning grumpiness. Or he went deaf from all the thunder and shouting and had to read God’s lips.
My theory is that “Thou shalt not steal” was really “Thou shalt not eat veal” given that, unless it’s cooked properly, preferably with garlic and lemon, it’s not one of my favorite meats. Especially if it’s overdone. Furthermore, I have a funny feeling when God said “Thou shalt not kill” I think God really said “Thou shalt not spill.” Let’s look at the facts.
Humans kill all day, every day, for good reasons, for no reasons, for money, sex, fame, women, sports cars, for accidental rollator theft at the old peoples’ home, not to mention because of boredom in South American, Russian and Asian dictatorships. If that commandment in particular were meant to be heeded, we’re doing a pretty crappy job of it. Frankly, if we killed more, and more selectively (I’m talking to you Mr. Neighbor’s Cat Who Craps On My Lawn Just Before I Go To Mow It, and Subsequently Step In Its Droppings) world over-population wouldn’t be such a hot topic at the dinner table, right after “Can we order Chinese instead of having leftovers?”
If my theory is right, and “Thou shalt not kill” was a typo or miscommunication, and should have really been “Thou shalt not spill”, it would explain why my father would throw us death looks at the dinner table when we were kids and we knocked some liquid over. I think dad wanted to kill us then. Furthermore, have you noticed how bent out of shape people get when they spill milk? They cry over it! Even though we have developed a coping mechanism in the English language to deal with that fact. We tell people not to cry over it. Easy.
To underscore my point further, what happens when there’s a chemical spill somewhere? Everyone goes nuts, the media are all over it, some environmental lawyer with poor grooming habits is on every talk show and the victims of the spill are helped and cared for. Yet, when a politician runs over someone after an all-nighter with a hooker, no one bats an eyelash. But spill hot coffee on a dictator’s lap when he’s planning an assassination and there will be hell to pay.
It’s quite clear to me now that the 10 commandments should really be renamed to the “10 best practices”, because if they were true commandments, and there were real consequences with eating poorly prepared veal, there would be some kind of bad-ass payback in the form of locusts or reality shows being banned from television. Furthermore, if you believe in a god, he or she or it is a pretty hands-off manager, and not in the good way. You get your marching orders from some lower-level manager, then god is off who knows where playing golf or at a bar in the Caribbean with the top salesmen, and when it’s time to give feedback on your performance, you’re usually dead. So what good is a bonus then?
I won’t even get into “Remember the Sabbath Day” – I am sure it was “Remember to take a bath every day.” Those ancient Israelites must have stunk after being in the desert and sweating and fornicating. The least they could have done was wash their privates and armpits. But no, Moses had to go and take a perfectly good commandment on hygiene and he made up the word “Sabbath” just to confuse the vitamin and water-depleted freed slaves so he’d have a day off to watch football. There went millennia of good hygiene and the birth of smelly Frenchmen.
What does any of this have to do with the latest installment of Stanko & Tibor, the illustrated dialectical Karl Marx once used as a beer coaster when he was hitting on the busty waitress at Das Bierhaus? Not much except that try as we might, communications will be missed thus leading to wars, and killing will go on unabated, and sadly it won’t be that cat that is forever in my backyard dropping fecal reminders.
Master Plumber and Part-time Electrician
Zsolt “The Volt” Tesla-Druker