By Everette Chapman
Pastor Emeritus Fairfield Mountains Chapel
Have you ever noticed all the “Top Ten” lists floating around – on the internet, in magazines, everywhere? Especially in the world of sports do these lists appear, rating the Top Ten hitters in baseball, running backs in football, and on and on they go. The internet just listed, for example, the top ten movies of all times. There are always lists of the “Ten most beautiful women of all time.” I have never agreed with those lists; they always omit my mother and my wife. Top Ten lists are everywhere. You get the picture. Perhaps the most well-known list of ten is found in Exodus 20; you and I know that list as the Ten Commandments.
I recently ran across a variation on that list. It is called “The Ten Commandments of the Cherokee Indians.” Allow me to pass the list along to you:
- Treat the earth and all that dwell therein with respect. Remain close to the Great Spirit. 3. Show great responsibility for your fellow human beings. 4. Work together for the benefit of mankind. 5. Give assistance and kindness wherever needed. 6. Do what you know to be right. 7. Look after the well-being of your mind and body. 8. Dedicate a share of your possessions to the greater good of all. 9. Be truthful and honest at all times. 10. Take responsibility for all your actions.
While these “commandments” may not be as specific as the biblical ones, their themes are the same: reverence for God and respect for others. Reverence, respect, responsibility – these are good words in any culture.
At about the same time I stumbled onto the document above, I chanced to find another pertinent list. A writer named Barbara Cage provided this list of “Ten Suggestions for a Brighter Future.” A lot of good insights are imbedded in it. Let me share it as well.
- Realize that life isn’t always fair and never will be. Accept what you must, change what you can, and make the most of what you have.
- Think before you act. A moment of carelessness or anger can cause years of anguish and regret. Consider the long-term results of momentary actions.
- Look for the beauty in life, in people, in nature, and in yourself. Beauty surrounds us everywhere. Look upward, look outward, and look inward; you will be surprised at what you see.
- Appreciate what you have – the people, the opportunities, the material possessions, everything. Moreover, take time to express gratitude. Tell people that you love and appreciate them.
- Make every effort to have fun. It is a great way to bond with others, and it makes for some wonderful memories. Contrary to some popular beliefs, it is not a sin to enjoy life.
- Set aside some time for yourself. It is not selfish to do so. In fact, it is vitally necessary for good mental and physical health. Do something you enjoy, as long as it is moral and ethical, without feeling even a little bit guilty.
- Accept others without judgment. Everyone is unique, and it is all right to be different. We make a terrible mistake when we prejudge others because of their body build, their name, their ethnicity, or other such consideration. Give everyone the benefit of the doubt and assume the best about others.
- Forgive…and try to forget. Stored up bitterness and resentment hurt you far more than the person or persons toward which you direct them. Moreover, anger turned inward results in depression. “Get over it,” and be bigger than the hurts you have received.
- Keep on learning. Keep your mind open to new ideas and activities, and don’t be afraid to try something new. Whereas, as we get old, many of the “required” courses of life are behind us, there is a wonderful array of “electives” still available to us. Let’s tackle some of those.
- Continue to dream. Make large plans. Aim high. Believe in yourself. Go for what you want. “When dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.”
I am much closer to age 82 than to 81, but these suggestions grab me. As for you, dear reader, whether you can expect your future to be one of decades, years, months, or only days, these suggestions will be helpful. So, too, will the Cherokee Indian Commandments and the ones in God’s Word. Embrace them all and try to live by them. I re-commit myself to them this day, with God’s help.