10 for $10,000.00

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8:27 AM
" What if, instead of climbing Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments from God, Moses had turned to the Israelites and asked, "Hey, what do you guys think we should do?"
Considering the Hebrews' bad behavior, with the coveting of neighbors' wives and murdering their own brothers, that might have been a disastrous idea.  But in our own more enlightened age, we're perfectly capable of crowd sourcing our own commandments -- or, at least, that's what a new project would have us believe.

Lex Bayer, an executive at AirBnB, and John Figdor, a humanist chaplain at Stanford University, delivered their own 10 "non-commandments" in a book they co-wrote: "Atheist Heart, Humanist Mind." Bayer said the book forced him to clarify and articulate his own beliefs, and he thought others could benefit from doing the same."
Enter the "10 'Non-Commandments' Contest," in which citizens were asked to offer modern alternatives to the famous ten. And, to sweeten the pot, the contest offered $10,000 in moolah to the winning would-be Moses.   Yeah, that's right - each one of the lucky ten individuals, received $10,000!   Wish I had known about it, as none of the ten selected,  looked that difficult to come up with!
The contest drew more than 2,800 submissions from 18 countries and 27 U.S. states, according to Bayer and Figdor. The proposed "non-commandments" ranged from the quizzical ("Don't follow your nature") to the quixotic ("Thriving in space is the ultimate goal").
A team of 13 judges selected 10 of the more sober and serious submissions, and announced the winners Friday.
There's nary a "thou shalt" among them -- nothing specifically about murder, stealing or adultery, although there is a version of the Golden Rule, which presumably would cover those crimes.  If they lack faith in the divine, the atheist "non-commandments" display a robust faith in humankind.
Bayer said humans are hardwired for compassion, and the scientific method and wisdom of crowds -- or the tribes that gather online each day -- will weed out bad ideas. In other words, this is an open-ended, and hopefully progressive, process, he said."

Luck of the Draw

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5:25 PM

Thomas Hardy

Many of the views of my 17-year-old self were formed around the novels and poetry of Thomas Hardy;  views to which I still hold onto, over 40 years later.   He was my favorite author then, as he is now.

Drawing from The Mayor of Casterbridge
Even though he wrote fiction, his novels represented stark and raw truth. It was a truth that overrode  any religious dogmas ever taught to me. 

Hardy never lied to me.    He had analyzed life meticulously, and through pure genius, come up with certain answers.   They rang so true to me, that I believed them, too.

 Thomas Hardy

These philosophies included: 
  • Nature is impersonal and a primitive force   
  • Chance plays a conspicuous part in the course of events
  • Any person's life can easily be derailed by unexpected bad luck
  • Inborn instincts and inherited traits are responsible, to a large degree, for a person's thoughts and actions    

Far From the Madding Crowd - read at 17 

 In Hardy's novels, irony of circumstance results in human suffering.   Throughout it all, nature remains unconcerned and indifferent.  

  But realization comes to the reader, that  social laws and conventions can be changed and cause an improvement in our human lot.  


      Through his novels, one learns that time is a great series of moments and incidents, some fortunate but others not so much so.   Even though fate does not take into account a person's aspirations and desires, a successful answer still exists, for happiness and meaning.

   Turning to human kindness and empathy for our joy in life,   is that answer.   Becoming a person that refuses to impart cruelty to our fellow beings, including animals,   defines a life well fulfilled.   Another conspicuous note that resonates, is Hardy's acknowledgement of the merit of loyalty in human relations. 

       I love Thomas Hardy for setting me straight and telling me things that were hard to hear, but in such a beautiful way.  

     I am in awe of the ability of any brilliant mind,  to capture nature's beauty and the depth  of human experience as coherently as Hardy did.      I truly admire his genius.