6. Do not murder.
If people lived by this commandment alone, the world would enter a heavenly state. At the same time, the commandment has been widely misunderstood. The Hebrew original prohibits murder, not killing. By mistranslating the Hebrew as “Do not kill,” too many modern Westerners have been taught that pacifism is moral and noble. It is neither. It is an accessory to murder, since it prevents pacifists from doing the only thing that stops mass murder — killing the murderers. The Nazi death camps were liberated by soldiers whose job was to kill murderers, not by pacifists or “peace activists.”
7. Do not commit adultery.
Observance or even near-observance of this commandment alone would end the formation of the underclass. No amount of state aid can do what marriage and commitment to a spouse do to end poverty and almost all social pathologies.
8. Do not steal.
This commandment prohibits the stealing of people, the stealing of property, and the stealing of anything that belongs to another. The first prohibition alone, if obeyed, would have rendered the slave trade impossible.
Protecting the sanctity of private property makes moral civilization possible. That is why the recent riots in London should frighten every citizen of the U.K. and the West generally. Just as the burning of books leads to the burning of people, so, too, the smashing of windows and the looting of property leads eventually to the smashing of heads.
The rampant violation of this commandment by the governments of Africa is the primary reason for African poverty. Corruption, not Western imperialism, is the root of Africa’s backwardness.
9. Do not bear false witness.
Lying is the root of nearly all major evils. All totalitarian states are based on lies. Had the Nazis not lied about Jews, there would not have been a Holocaust. Only people who believed that all Jews, including babies, were vermin, could, for example, lock hundreds of Jews into a synagogue and burn them alive. That similar lies are told about Jews today by Arab governments and by the Iranian state should awaken people to the Nazi-like threat that Islamic anti-Semitism poses.
10. Do not covet your neighbor’s spouse, property, etc.
The cultivation of class warfare — i.e., the cultivation of coveting what richer citizens legitimately own — inevitably leads to violating the other commandments, most particularly the ones that prohibit stealing and murdering.
There is only one way to achieve a Great Society, and it is not by creating a massive state that doles out other citizens’ money. It is by cultivating citizens who try to live by these Ten Commandments. They are as relevant today as they were 3,000 years ago.
— Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. He may be contacted through his website, dennisprager.com.