Governments: “but they keep some of the commandments”
So there is some horror when some find out my feelings and conclusions about the illegitimacy of modern governments. Or at least it causes some discomfort or disturbance to those who read my complaints about this monstrous entity.
One of the replies I get to my claim that supporting such an anti-Seven-Commandments entity – as modern government is – says that at least the government keeps or protects some traces of the seven laws. And by supporting a better political party that keeps more of the seven laws, we can go step-by-step to getting the right sort of environment to have all the Seven Commandments kept.
So there are essentially two claims here:
1) The governments of today keep some traces or aspects of the Seven Commandments which justifies not only their existence but also a moral person’s support for voting, voice and financing; and
2) Step by step, we can get to the right sort of government or society through support of government, by supporting intermediate governments that break some of the seven laws.
What are my responses to these claims?
OK, so claim number one: the governments of today keep some traces of the seven commandments and this justifies their existence and a person’s active support of their existence.
Let me use an analogy. Let’s imagine that a guy called Finkle is seen handcuffed, and on his way to a righteous court that actually upholds all of the seven commandments. You get an opportunity to ask the guy a question saying “why have you been captured and taken to court?” He replies with strange honesty with the following:
“Well, I killed a guy. I wanted to and I meant to. He hurt me emotionally so I waited until I had the chance, planned for a time when he would be vulnerable, and I struck him with deadly force. He deserved it. He was a prick anyway. But I can’t understand why I’m being punished for it. I kept the other six laws!”
Now does the fact that he kept the other six laws make any difference when he seems to have purposely broken one? My answer would be “no!” He’s broken a commandment in the way that he has and that makes him liable.
Let’s make the situation a bit worse. Not only did he kill the guy but afterwards he worshipped an idol, cursed God, and capped it all off by, during the ceremony, hacking the leg off a living goat and ate it. Now this guy, for some reason, has never stolen, nor has he had sex with a forbidden partner. But it could be said that he’s kept the other commandments. Does that make a difference to his guilt? Again, my answer would be “no!”
OK, let’s carry on with this.
According to the version of Rambam’s Mishneh Torah held at http://www.mechon-mamre.org (it’s the Hebrew version) which is the unedited version, there is a section in his monologue on the seven commandments that is rarely mentioned but I’ll bring it up here. One of my favourite authors brings it up in her book, Elisheva Barre in her book “Torah for Gentiles”.
A [Gentile] who transgressed one the seven commandments is put to death by the sword … How so? A [Gentile] who committed idol worship, or blessed the Name of God [blasphemed], or murdered, or had intercourse with one of the six … forbidden to him, or stole [even] less than one cent, or eat even the slightest quantity of a limb taken from a living animal or its meat, or saw someone committing such transgressions and did not judge and put him to death is himself put to death by the sword (Laws of Kings and Wars, chapter IX 14). (quoted on page 176)
Now as I’ve mentioned before in a different article, this places responsibility for the upholding on the Seven Commandments on each individual. And in this time where the Seven Commandments are not being enforced (which should tell you about the nature of the modern governments … and society), it tells individuals who keep the Seven Commandments what actions to condemn as wrong. By condemning these actions, such a person would have just cause not to support the people who are doing these acts, especially to support them in doing the forbidden acts.
This again leads to the fact that there is a prohibitive side to the law of Dinim which teaches that a Gentile is forbidden from perverting justice, disrupting the enforcement of the seven commandments. What great disruption to the enforcement and upholding of the seven commandments could there be than supporting a system and a political party, that actively works to protect forbidden actions? There is even a detail that is part of the Seven Commandments that prohibits the setting up and establishing of unrighteous or ignorant judges. How much more does this prohibition apply when it comes to the government who people think has the power to establish laws that controls what the judges get taught and what laws the judges will enforce?
I’ll bring all this stuff together soon, but again it should be noted that the Seven Commandments are the ground-level, the lowest level of morality. By that I mean that they are the fundamental foundational level of good. They are the level below which the permission to live is gone. Why do you think that each commandment carries the death penalty? It isn’t like the system of law where it’s like “because you committed this act, this the punishment you receive.” The Seven Commandments, Torah, is deeper than that. If an act makes you worthy of death according to the Giver of Life, then it’s not some arbitrary judgement, but rather it is because you went below the level of acceptable living. That’s why the seven commandments are understood as “the minimal moral duties required by the Torah on all men.”
Listening to a teaching called “Torah Laws for Non-Jews” by a rabbi Yehuda Leib Schapiro from http://www.chabad.org, in the 13th minute of the teaching he states that the seven commandments for the children of Noah have the death penalty assigned to each one for a reason that can be easily adduced. Gentiles are here to make a civilised world through the keeping of the Seven Commandments. That’s our purpose. Therefore if a Gentile breaks them, there is no more point in their being alive.
Now if a government, sorry, a group of individuals who are deemed as the government, if they step below this line then that places us in a very precarious position.
So let’s bring together all the stuff I’ve brought up so far.
1) Breaking one of the seven commandments makes one liable regardless if they keep the rest. The issue is very much the same if they break numerous commandments but only keep portions of the commandments.
2) The breaking of any of the seven commandments should be condemned and not supported.
3) One of the seven laws called “Dinim” or “Courts” or “Laws” has a prohibitive side which means that Gentiles should not pervert justice. Supporting governments that break the seven laws and protects forbidden acts is a powerful way to pervert justice.
4) Breaking any of the seven laws takes a person below the minimal standard for Gentiles.
Putting all these together, for me personally, I cannot see how the notion that a government upholds some aspects of the seven commandments justifies vocally, actively, willingly supporting them when they are unjust over the rest. It’s one thing to live with the fact that such a government exists and bear with that burden, but to actively support it, to willingly contribute financially or otherwise seems inconsistent. As I said in another article, to support the undermining of morality is immoral and self-destructive. To support the undermining of the seven laws breaks the seven laws.
So the argument that the government upholds some of the seven commandments but undermines others makes no sense.
Stairway to heaven
Ok. Claim number 2: step by step, by supporting better and better political parties, I can help the world get to a better place, a place where the Seven Commandments can be upheld.
I know the examples that can fly into the mind.
“David, what if the situation rose in the country you live in and someone who was threatening to cause torture and harm to others or do such terrible immoralities was running for office and there was a better person who didn’t uphold the seven commandments but had some significantly better qualities and this better person was the only opposition? Wouldn’t you, mustn’t you vote then?”
The fact I raised this in my own mind shows that I have thought about it.
But let me consider a few things within myself.
It has to be said that each time I would vote for this “intermediate” government, one that appears to be “more righteous” than the previous according to the seven commandments, the above argument applies. I would still be voting against at least one of the minimal moral or ethical standards for humanity. I don’t need to rehash the previous points again. But think about it this way: if we were talking about governments that actually upheld the seven commandments, but one was prone to being very intrusive in a person’s private affairs and the other was not so intrusive but makes up laws that end up with abuses of justice, then that would be where I would have to decide, because the foundation of righteousness is already there and I’m not voting for going below the minimal standard. But that’s not what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about God saying “Don’t go below x” and me voting purposely in a way that causes us to go below x. So no.
Also there is an almost constant track record of government breaking promises. How many times has a leader candidate said that he would do something and stand up for something and then as soon as he comes into power, it’s like the mask just drops off and he’s the same lying, tyrannical psychopathic pile of crap as so many of the rest.
[ASIDE: I know there are some people that really believe in their political leaders and documents, even the people who call themselves “noahides” or Torah observant Jews. Oh, how they look up to the Camerons, the Browns, the Thatchers, the Obamas, the Bushes, the Clintons (just insert your country’s leader’s surname in the list)! Oh what adoration! “Oh, they are just doing their best.” For those people …. errrr … hmmm … sorry, I was gonna apologise or something, but there’s no point.]
The issue is that the current political system doesn’t foster and nurture righteousness and morality. This is a winner or loser game. It’s for people who want power and will do what it takes to get it and to wield it. There’s no honour in that. The political arena is rarely, if ever, for the consistent honest type of person full of integrity. It’s about PR, image and, most important, attracting people. And people in general don’t seem to be attracted by the deep qualities in a person, but by the image portrayed. (Wow, idolatry is not dead!) Right now, popularity isn’t with the seven laws. It’s with celebrity, money, the economy, tax-cuts, the indoctrination sys … sorry, I mean the education system. So the chances of not only some intermediate government but also a party of people in government that actually keeps their word when it comes to integrity, righteousness and truth are so close to zero that …. Actually, let’s be blunt: the chances are practically zero.
And lastly the issue is this: to look to government and voting to make a positive difference in this world is like looking to the gods for favour, even looking to God for favour, when it isn’t meant to come.
WOAH! WOAH! DAVID! WHAT DO YOU MEAN? WHAT DO YOU MEAN? God’s favour isn’t going to come? WHAT DO YOU MEAN?
I remember a saying: “If Adam and Eve simply folded their hands and waited for God to tend to the garden of Eden, the garden of Eden would have been messed up!” What that means is that God has given us our responsibility. “It has been made conspicuous, man, what is good and what God requires of you, if only to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly before your God!” For better or worse, the buck stops, not just with the tyrants or the ruling class, but with every individual in the world. Why should a person focus on what government they are going to vote for, what gods they are going to establish over their lives and look to for the rains to come and for a better economy? It doesn’t matter where you look in the human race, all of us, even those who deem themselves as authorities, are the same blades of grass.
And right now, everyone around is being taught materialism, fast food mentality, celebrity worship, immaturity, irresponsibility, irresponsibility (yes I said it twice). The strangers in palaces, white (doll) houses and comfortable seats of “rulership” can change nothing fundamentally. For all their “power”, the world still sinks. And if the same sort of people make up the population, then the same sort of people will rise to “power”. It would be better – rather than shout an empty voice that leads to immorality in the voting booth for who will be the next god – to focus on enriching the lives of those around you, of building up the true education from the grassroots (which contradicts the notion that those who don’t vote necessarily do nothing). Even by being a good example, lives can be enriched. It’s better to grasp one’s own responsibility and become expert at it than to push some stranger to the top of the hill for him to send his excrement downhill on everyone else.
To answer the initial example I gave (the two candidates for ruler, an evil person and a better person who still advocated the breaking of some of the seven commandments), my vote wouldn’t mean a thing. If such an evil candidate had gained enough popularity to actually have a chance of winning, then me as in individual voting would not make a difference.
The current voting system is fundamentally irresponsible. All the votes are confidential, hidden. I could have a bunch of apparent allies and when the vote gets counted, it would appear as if someone has voted for the evil candidate and we would be clueless as to who. And it would be totally unknown where the weakness lies. And, as should be known, the power doesn’t lie with the anonymous voters but rather with the vote counters.
Plus statistically speaking, an individual vote means nothing in the midst of an unknown population, much less a populace as morally weak as the ones that populate most western countries.
Of course the stray voice comes out saying: “Well at least I did something.” Actually no. Factually, if I had voted, with so many questionable links in the chain of processes between voting and something supposedly effective happening, whether the “better” candidate won or lost, my vote would most likely never be the deciding factor. If I wanted to do something possibly effective in such a situation, it would be this: if the evil candidate won, I would have two or three choices: 1) if possible, leave the country, because his coming into power would say more about the significant percentage of the populace, either their corruption or stupidity; 2) plan the assassination of the new “leader” of the country as a pursuer (rodeph – yes, I know people may claim that I’ve misinterpreted the command); or 3) the hardest choice, attempt to reach out to the minds and hearts of the people to see if a change can be made, in the hopes that the weakness lies within the people and the new “leader’s” success isn’t through the work of the vote counters, which would make such an act of reaching out almost pointless.
But for me, whether I view this in light of statistics or effective actions or what exactly I’m supporting and other factors, even with this “intermediate stages” notion, using my time and energy to vote for any person who wanted power over other, especially a person who spits on any of God’s minimal standards, is akin to “spilling the seed wastefully”: some think it’s permitted and some say it’s forbidden, but it is a horrible and possibly immoral waste of something precious and irretrievable, in this case, my time and energy.
“Oooh, you’ve gone too far now, David. How can you make such a disgusting comparison?”
Yes, David, that thought did come to mind as I was typing that. I just take the Seven Commandments very seriously. And I hate inconsistency. If I’m going to stand for something, then I’m going to adamantly and ardently stand for it! No pussy footing around. Hey, look, I know someone is bound to disagree with me and take offence. We are all invested in whatever we are invested in. But I don’t write all this glibly or flippantly or with ease.
So when I think about the reasons to vote for those who advocate and protect activities forbidden by the Seven Commandments, I don’t see any choice when it comes to whether I should give my vocal support to their attempts at or sustainment of “leadership”. Plus, as you can see, I don’t see any real value to voting, especially in this day and age.
Look, whether I take Ramban’s view on Dinim which has a whole system of civil law and criminal law similar to Torah, or I take Rambam’s view that obligates Gentiles to set up courts and judges that uphold the Seven Commandments, or I take the prohibitive side of the law of Dinim that prohibits the perversion of justice, no matter what way I take it, I don’t see any value in the argument that as long as the group of people who are deemed “government” keeps or upholds some of the Seven Commandments (while spitting on or ignoring the rest) they are worthy of my time or support at all (except to oppose them if needs be).
But hey, as always, this is just my point of view. I’m not enforcing it on anyone else. You do what you see as best. I’ll do what I see is best. That’s all we can do in the end, right?