By now, we all know that murder is wrong, theft is seriously frowned upon, cheating is repugnant, and that we should be kind to our parents. The old religious based 10 commandments are now firmly rooted in our minds, so it's about time we had some new ones relevant to the more secular society we have become.
Even non-religious types get all pious at the end of the year, making promises to ourselves that next year we will do better, and do more. So the end of December feels like a good time to espouse these new life laws. Some are for society as a whole, some for the people that claim to run the place (politicians), some are for the corporations (that actually run the place), and others for us as individuals. The important thing is, that we can all have an effect in each of these 10 areas, and damn well should.
1. Thou shalt not sell big guns to bad men
So starting with a pretty heavy one, but one that sound like common sense, no? No, apparently not. Yet again this year, we have entered another war, in another Middle-Eastern country, whilst we are still selling some of the biggest players even bigger guns. It is absolutely unfathomable that on the one hand our government sells arms to countries with the worst human rights records, and on the other gets all uppity when they start using them. They may be Oxbridge graduates but they ain't got the street smarts to draw the line between these two phenomena. Us as individuals we can get involved through boycotting companies involved in the arms trade, signing petitions against the trade and the acts of war that follow, and general activism.
2. Thou shalt pay taxes
This one covers us all, or at least it should. I have to pay my tax, they just take it away from me before I even see it. Freelancers and the self-employed spend hours agonising over their return forms and have to show incredible self-control in putting money aside all year. I guess politicians should fall into the same category as me, but I bet some of them have found ways around these things - especially those that own companies too. The majority of us do not have access to off shore bank accounts on the 'Isle of Tax Haven' (wonder if it's like Butlins there?) unlike multinational corporations and gazzilionaires. We need to level the playing field - we need to make sure those who can afford to pay tax bloody well do, so that those who can't, don't have to see such a chunk of their pay-packet disappear. We must ensure our government's priority isn't cuts but catching the corporate swindlers diddling their way out of coughing up. As well as being a responsible citizen and paying your own taxes, again; a little bit of clicktivism can go a long way.
3. Thou shalt live sustainably
After #COP21 and the 'ground-breaking' promises around climate change, we all really need to step up and do our part at home and at work. Reduce, reuse, recycle are the main points of this one. Reduce how much you buy and how much packaging said purchases come with, how many plastic bags you use, how many miles you travel, how often you use the car, and how much food and water waste you produce. Reuse old items instead of throwing them away - creating compost from food waste, blankets from old clothes, and art from tech. Recycle - EVERYTHING. Recycle batteries, electronics, clothes, homeware, food, everything. Try new things like growing your own food, starting a cycle scheme at work, switch to renewables. Sustainability is quite trendy nowadays and it is surprisingly easy and cost effective to switch your lifestyle.
4. Thou shalt renounce bigotry
God (bad word choice I guess considering this is the atheist's commandment list but hey) the world seems full of it at the moment. If you take anything from this, let it be the next sentence. WE ARE ALL HUMANS. No one of us is better or worse than the next. No matter which colour, creed, sexuality, gender, one identifies with - we are all the same. It has been a frustrating year for us that know that, with high profile ignorants like Trump and Hopkins taking centre stage to capitalise on the world's fears after Paris (oh yeah and Nigeria and Beirut, mustn't forget those). We must actively combat bigotry and ignorance, and educate the hell out of the population to stop such moronic orators indoctrinating the weak.
5. Thou shalt not believe the Daily Mail
You know that ignorance we just talked about? This is the root of it, and it must be severed. Enough said.
6. Thou shalt practice some form of meditation
With all the stress that comes from perpetual war, government cuts, bigotry and the Daily Mail we need new ways to centre ourselves. Meditation in the form of simple mindfulness, or yoga, can be really powerful ways to relax ourselves in a rather hectic world. We have got incredibly bad at making time for ourselves. Practice the three minute stress busting breathing exercise at least.
7. Thou shalt consume less animal produce
Heavily connected to the third commandment, if we all made an effort to have a couple of meat free days a week we could have a huge impact on climate change. As discussed in a previous post of mine, this doesn't have to be an overnight conversion to veganism - just a move towards conscious consumption. Beef in particular has a particularly bad impact on the environment (cows have farty bottoms and take up lots of land where trees should stand). So give up the steak and expand your cooking repertoire to include more vegi meals (try vegi moussaka it's delicious!).
8. Thou shalt limit screen time
Quite ironic to advocate this one whilst you are reading these very words on your phone, tablet, or computer screen, so hold off just until you have finished this article. But there is so much research that shows are addiction to tech is seriously affecting our real life relationships, and ability to form them. Put the phone down and talk to some people, stop playing silly games and get out in the real world and have some new experiences. Most of us are on screens as part of our day job, so in leisure time we should make a conscious effort to limit.
9. Thou shalt not be led by commercial 'holidays'
In my first post as a HuffPo blogger I explained why I chose to boycott Christmas. The short version is, I am not a Christian, and the holiday has lost all its real meaning. Every day is now something. As I type I believe it's Christmas Jumper Day, there is Steak and Blow Job Day (which I only learnt recently is the antithesis to Valentine's Day, which baffles me as surely that is for both partners?!), bikini day, world UFO day, and a whole host of random meaningless 'days' to direct our attention to spend time away from what is important. Ignore them, love every day, be kind every day, and even wear your bikini every day if you want. Do what you want, not what the corporations tell you.
10. Thou shalt practice selflessness
Paradoxically to my last sentence (the first commandments were a little paradoxical so we are fine), it is not all about you. Be kind, remember we are all human, have all had pasts and struggles, and all need a little help every now and then. Selflessness means you are in the positives with the karmic forces of the universe, and so the world shall be kind in return. It doesn't take much to simply be a nice person. Just do it.