Personal Decency

Decency is simply the effort to make right choices in life--choices that resonate more with our soul than with our egos and hormones. For some people, that is explanation enough.

Other people prefer a more detailed, more authoritative definition of what constitutes decent human behavior. For those people, all of the large, time-proven religions have developed compact codes of decency which we can use as guideposts, or beacons in the distance, as we walk through this rough and troubled world everyday. It would be impossible (as well as impractical) for most of us to follow all of these rules strictly, but if we use them as guideposts, we can become more helpful and less harmful to those around us. If we make a mistake from time to time--we are human, after all--we can simply try to avoid making similar mistakes in the future. Gradually we can become steadier on the path of decency.

So, here are some of the well-known codes of decency that have helped shape human behavior for hundreds of years:

The Five Moral Precepts of Buddhism

  1. No killing or harming of animals.

  2. No stealing or taking what is not given.

  3. No sexual relations outside a committed marriage.

  4. No lying.

  5. No alcohol or drugs.

Christian and Jewish Ten Commandments

  1. Pray only to God.

  2. Don't use God's name in vain.

  3. Don't pray to false idols.

  4. Keep the Sabbath day holy.

  5. Respect your parents.

  6. Don't kill

  7. Don't have sexual relations outside of marriage.

  8. Don't steal.

  9. Don't lie about other people.

  10. Don't desire other people's property or spouses.

Islam's Five Pillars

  1. Faith. There is no god worthy of worship except God, or Allah.

  2. Prayer. Pray five times a day.

  3. The Zakat. All things belong to God, and wealth is held by human beings in trust.

  4. The Fast. Abstain from food, drink, and sexual relations from sunrise to sundown one month each year.

  5. Pilgrimage. Take a pilgrimage to Mecca each year if you can afford it physically and financially.

MM Nov 20, 2003

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