Today Bob Bhaerman of the Kochhar Humanist Education Center came to speak to us about the 10 Committments. While there is a long Christian tradition of tying morality to religion, there is also a tradtion that believes that values can be taught independendent of religious promises. For parents who have been seeking belief systems to teach their children right from wrong without the religious committment, the American Humanist Association offers the 10 committments.
Their idea is that many students spend as much or more time in school than they do at home. Therefore, the school must be a place that supports family and community efforts to build strong values. Consistent with our constitution and our ever-changing diverse society, values can taught free of ideology and theology. Schools are responsible for developing literate and skilled human beings. In addition, they also must help their students develop good personal, social, and citizenship values. The ethical mission is a part of all education. In a democratic and pluralist society, values can be presented as a moral foundation independent of religion.
The 10 Committments are:
Altruism is the unselfish concern for the welfare of others without expectation of reward, recognition, or return.
Caring for the World Around Us
We learn to understand that we are dependent on each other, on the natural world, and all that lives in it for our food and shelter, our space and understanding of beauty.
We gain reliable knowledge because we are able to observe, report, experiment, and analyze what goes on around us. We also learn to raise questions to gather information, and to reason about the information we receive in a way that tests it for truthfulness, accuracy, and utility.
Empathy is the ability to understand and enter imaginatively into another living being’s feelings. Many of the personal relationships we have (in the family, among friends, between diverse individuals, and amid other living things) are made positive through empathy.
Questions of fairness, cooperation, and sharing are among the first moral issues we encounter. Ethics can be taught through discussion, role-playing, story telling, and other activities that improve analysis and decision-making regarding what’s good and bad, right and wrong.
Understanding can be gained regarding the many communities in which we live through history, anthropology, and biology. Linguistic, ethnic, and cultural diversity provide lessons of diversity and commonality.
Human rights is the idea that people should have rights just because they are human beings. These rights are for everyone no matter what their race, religion, ethnicity, nationality, age, sex, political beliefs, intelligence, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
Peace and Social Justice
Education should include opportunities to learn about the United Nations’ role in preventing conflict and efforts to achieve social justice here in the United States. Students should learn what can be done to prevent and respond with meaningful actions that promote peace and justice at home and abroad.
Our behavior is morally responsible when we tell the truth, help someone in trouble, and live up to promises we’ve made. We also have a larger responsibility to be a caring member of our family, our community, and our world.
Service and Participation
Life’s fulfillment can emerge from an individual’s participation in the service of humane ideals. Through our lifetime, we learn over and over again of our mutual dependence.
For parents who want to pursue this with their own children, Bob recommended the book The 10 Commitments: Parenting with Purpose by Moorman and Haller. It apires to help you to raise responsible, caring, confident children.