A Simple Straight-Forward Message for a Complex Convoluted Time

I think there should be eleven Commandments.

The existing ten should all slide down a notch to make room for a new, necessary First Commandment.

1st Commandment:  When it comes to others who embrace beliefs different than yours, thou shalt shut up and mind your own business.

I was raised strict Catholic from the late 1940s until July 1961.  I attended Catholic school for six years.  The indoctrination was mind-boggling — literally!  I’m not sure where things stand now.  Allegedly the Catholic Church has made some giant leaps forward.  I find the word ‘leap’ a little hard to swallow.  After all, it took them over 300 years to pardon that wildly insane heretic Galileo for declaring that the sun was at the center of the solar system.  It’s too late for his family to sue.

What I was taught, with no room for interpretation or even the slightest bending of the rules, was that Catholics were true believers, everyone else was a pagan and would burn mercilessly in Hell for it.  This obviously included jungle-dwelling savages with the bones through their noses, anyone with slanted eyes, hairy-chested men on horses who raped and pillaged without pause, witches, witch-doctors, probably acupuncturists.  But it also referred to — brace yourselves — all Jews and Protestants! 

Talk about being exclusive.  The Catholic Church didn’t mess around!

I left that all behind.  I remember the moment well.  Both of my parents were dead.  I was attending a Catholic mass, summer of 1961.  I tried to listen to what the priest was saying.  I looked around.  People were staring at the altar.  The priest droned on, something about the Holy Spirit.  I was 15 and scared to death by a fear of eternal damnation — something which was pounded into my head day-after-day, year-after-year by both priests and nuns — afraid as only a thoroughly brainwashed young man can be, to do anything at odds with the Church or God or the Commandments.  But then suddenly, like that perennial bolt of lightning, it hit me:  None of this made any sense to me anymore.  I walked out and never looked back.  To this day, I’ve never again attended a Catholic mass or Catholic service of any kind, for over 56 years.

I now can look at religion the way someone might look at photos in their high school year book.  Hmm . . . French Club . . . Junior Varsity Football Team . . . Mr. Hunter, chemistry.

When three years ago I wrote the song posted at the head of this rambling monograph, I tried to include Sikhs, Hindus, Buddhists, and so on.  But it’s just a song.  There’s only so much room without turning the whole thing into a random game of Scrabble.  So . . .

I settled on Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and then gave a nod to atheism in one line.

I hear we’re now in the throes of a new “Clash of Civilizations”.  This refers to a war for hearts, minds, and oil fields, mainly between the Christian West and the Muslim Middle East.  The Jews are in there, since they are allegedly under siege by the Muslims, and they now have a marriage of convenience with the Christians — which is about as convenient as a marriage between a crocodile and a chicken, and makes about as much sense.

First of all, there’s nothing “new” about this epic showdown.  Haven’t any of these idiotic champions of chaos and carnage shilling for this conflict ever heard of the Crusades?

Second, while I can buy “clash”, which seems to be the operating word in just about every interaction between the Western powers and everyone else on the planet, “civilizations” somehow makes me think about “civil” and “civilized”.  Neither apply to those participants who have by choice, with full knowledge, by design, with clear intention, have brought the human species and every other living thing on the planet to the brink of extinction.

One has to ask:  Is this the best we as a product of twisted fibers of DNA and RNA can do?  Are we doomed by some kamikaze gene?  Do we periodically have to self-destruct, tear it all down?  Why do we bother with claiming it’s about ideologies or religions or politics?

Because it’s not.  It’s about hatred.  It’s about selfishness.  It’s about evil, either inherent or manufactured evil.

It’s about either the evil we are, the evil we’ve become, or the evil that we allow to exist in our hearts and our minds.

What’s my song about?  It’s so simple, so naive, so straightforward, so easy to understand.  Maybe that’s what makes it so difficult to take into our hearts, try to weave it in with those strands of DNA and RNA, let it become an antidote to the madness that drives us to reject and demonize others, that allows us to dehumanize those who are different, that feeds our inflated sense of importance, our “exceptionalism”, our grandiosity and rabid delusions of superiority, our ultimately self-destructive rejection of our shared humanity.

Happy New Year!  Yes, we’re starting a new cycle.  365 days to do what?

Yes.  What?

Maybe the whole New Year thing is just silly.

Peace be with us . . .


I’ve got it!  You decide for yourself.  That actually was the idea in the first place.

But I’ve given you a little push in the right direction.

Assuming you’ve gotten this far, here are the lyrics to my song, performed in the video by my extremely talented wife and myself, a simple straightforward message for a complex convoluted time.

It’s a very special time of year
For family and friends holiday cheer
For those no longer with us
We shed a tear
A time to share
A time of feast
A time to care
And pray for peace
A time to give to those
Who have the least

Merry Christmas
Happy Hanukkah
Peace be with us
Happy New Year!

This is the time to start anew
Atheist Christian Muslim Jew
To reach within
And find the love inside of you
Discard the old seek out the new
Reject the false embrace the true
To look ahead decide
To bring out the best in you

Merry Christmas
Happy Hanukkah
Peace be with us
Happy New Year!

(Chorus – Japanese)
Peace be with you
Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas
Happy Hanukkah
Peace be with you
Happy New Year!

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