Berger’s Burg: Two different cultures use similar commandments

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Treat the Earth and all that dwell thereon with respect; Remain close to the Great Spirit; Show great respect for your fellow beings; Work together for the benefit of all mankind; Give assistance and kindness whenever needed; Do what you know to be right; Look after the well-being of mind and body; Dedicate a share of your efforts to the greater good; Be truthful and honest at all times; Take full responsibility for your actions. — native American Ten Commandments

My brother-in-law handed me a copy of the above. He requested I read it and include it in one of my columns. “It may relieve the stress many of your readers are experiencing, considering the woeful state the world is in,” he said. “This is not meant to replace the original Ten Commandments, but to supplement it.”

“Hold on,” I exclaimed, after I read it. “Do you really want me to mess with the original Ten Commandments we all know and respect? There is only one set of Ten Commandments and those Ten Indian Commandments are not the ones.”

“Yes, but there are millions of native Americans around the world who do adhere to them. If your readers are traditionalists or not religious at all, sharing the Ten Indian Commandments will not disturb or change their belief in the biblical Ten Commandments, but only strengthen them.”

My brother-in-law said he read the Ten Indian Commandments while stopping at a rest area in the Midwest. They were listed on a framed poster hanging on a wall and he was deeply moved.

Most people believe that the Christian commandments are intentionally a little too severe — like setting a clock half an hour ahead to make sure of not being late in the morning. — Soren Kierkegaard

Yes, I agree they are different. But they essentially say the same things, except they accentuate the positives rather than the negatives with their preceding ‘Thou shalt nots.’ Affirmative statements usually work better when trying to motivate and/or change negative behavior.

The youngster was learning the Ten Commandments. He hesitated, looked up to heaven and said, “God, I’ll be good, but please, I don’t want to go to heaven if my piano teacher is going to be there.”

Will a person respond more favorably to a supervisor who is negative or to one who is positive? When my parents and teachers used statements like, ‘Don’t go there’ or, ‘Don’t touch that,’ it encouraged me to do just the opposite.

A native American was walking with his squaw and saw billows of smoke rising from the forest. It spelled out the Ten Indian Commandments. “Boy, I wish I had said that,” he said.

The original Ten Commandments are at the core of the big debate going in today’s society. It is a constant battle between religious and progressive views. At the forefront of this battle is whether the Ten Commandments should be posted in government buildings, courthouses and school buildings. The debate will continue unless both sides feel the other side’s passion.

A lady was mailing a Bible to her son in college. The postal clerk asked if the package contained anything breakable. “Only the Ten Commandmen­ts,” she said.

The core of the Ten Indian Commandments speaks of respecting all people, working together for the good of all, being honest, giving to others and taking personal responsibility for our lives. If we all take hold of these principles, a united world will be that much closer to becoming a reality.

He was a Swede and she was a Sioux. When they had a child, they named her Swede Sioux. (Readers, forgive me. This is my only Indian column and I just had to throw that one in.)

Perhaps we all can learn something from our native America brethren. Perhaps we can post the Ten Indian Commandments on our bulletin boards and refrigerators at home. Perhaps we can post them to the center of our hearts and, perhaps, these principles can help bring us to a better, unified world.

Readers, do you think the Ten Indian Commandments will make liberals and conservatives kissing cousins? Will it make Giants and Jets fans invite one another to each other’s homes for afternoon tea? Will it make Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a more pleasant person? Will it make the lion sit down with the lamb?

In any event, have no fear. I just read the last page of the Bible and everything is going to turn out all right.

Happy birthday, Gloria!

Contact Alex Berger at

Updated 6:22 pm, October 10, 2011
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