Provision #646: The Ten New Commandments

Laser Provision

What principles and practices guide your daily living? From ancient to modern times, this question has been the source of great inspiration and consternation. It has generated more than one list of “ten commandments.” There’s no telling how many such lists have been generated, but this Provision reprints six of them as a way of kicking off a new series titled “Guidelines for Life.” In weeks to come, we’ll consider each one in turn. For now, however, I encourage you to read on to see which ones speak most directly to you.

LifeTrek Provision


Last summer I saw a list in a religious magazine that caught my eye titled the “New Ten Commandments.” It was based on a poll taken by Channel 4 in the United Kingdom. Suggesting that the original Ten Commandments were a bit dated and, in some cases irrelevant, Channel 4 broadcast the following more upbeat, positive, and inclusive list of “commandments” in February 2005:

  1. Treat others as you would have them treat you.
  2. Take responsibility for your actions
  3. Do not kill.
  4. Be honest.
  5. Do not steal.
  6. Protect and nurture children.
  7. Protect the environment.
  8. Look after the vulnerable.
  9. Never be violent.
  10. Protect your family.

Consider how those “commandments” relate to the original list, found in Exodus 20:2-17, 34:11-27, and Deuteronomy 5:6-21:

  1. I am the Lord your God; have no other gods before me.
  2. Do not make for yourself an idol.
  3. Do not make wrongful use of the name of your God.
  4. Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.
  5. Honor your father and mother.
  6. Do not murder.
  7. Do not commit adultery.
  8. Do not steal.
  9. Do not bear false witness against your neighbor.
  10. Do not covet your neighbor’s wife or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

The first four of the original Commandments are obviously cultic in nature, having to do with how Jews, Christians, and Muslims are to relate to God and the practice of their religion. The last six, however, are broader in nature, serving as guidelines for living such as those found in the Channel 4 poll. Five of those guidelines (83%) are written in the negative, telling people what not to do rather than what to do. In contrast, seven of the ten “new commandments” (70%) are written in the positive.

The generation of “new commandments” is an age-old practice. Jesus gave his followers a “new commandment”: to love one another as he had loved them. He also summarized the original Ten Commandments in two sentences: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:34-40) Each generation has to make sense of these Commandments for themselves.

So, for example, there are many other lists of ten. In the Qur’an, in the 17th chapter, “Al-Israa” (“The Night Journey”), there is a set of moral stipulations resemble the original Ten Commandments. They can be numbered as follows (50% positive):

  1. Worship only God. (17:22)
  2. Be kind, honorable and humble to one’s parents. (17:24)
  3. Be neither miserly nor wasteful in one’s expenditure. (17:29)
  4. Do not engage in ‘mercy killings’ for fear of starvation. (17:31)
  5. Do not commit adultery. (17:32)
  6. Do not kill unjustly. (17:33)
  7. Care for orphaned children. (17:34)
  8. Keep one’s promises. (17:34)
  9. Be honest and fair in one’s interactions. (17:35)
  10. Do not be arrogant in one’s claims or beliefs. (17:36-37)

Much more recently, a feature-length documentary film premiered at the Edinburgh International Film Festival in 2008 titled “The New Ten Commandments.” The film’s unifying theme is human rights in Scotland with each chapter illustrating one of the “New Ten Commandments” • 10 articles chosen from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), a declaration adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1948 at the Palais de Chaillot in Paris.

The Guinness Book of Records describes the UDHR as the “Most Translated Document” in the world. The Declaration arose directly from the experience of the Second World War and represents the first global expression of rights to which all human beings are entitled. It consists of 30 articles which have been elaborated in subsequent international treaties, regional human rights instruments, national constitutions, and laws. The ten that were featured in the film (80% positive) include:

  1. The right to freedom of assembly
  2. The right not to be enslaved
  3. The right to a fair trial
  4. The right to freedom of expression
  5. The right to life
  6. The right to liberty
  7. The right not to be tortured
  8. The right to asylum
  9. The right to privacy
  10. The right to freedom of thought
Even atheists have gotten into the “commandment” business. Richard Dawkins, the British biologist and professorial fellow of New College, Oxford, published The God Delusion in 2006 to dispute the notion of a supernatural creator and of a personal god, which he defines as a “persistent false belief held in the face of strong contradictory evidence.” In that book, Dawkins cites the following “New Ten Commandments” (70%) as a way to express our consensual ethics:

  1. Do not do to others what you would not want them to do to you.
  2. In all things, strive to cause no harm.
  3. Treat your fellow human beings, your fellow living things, and the world in general with love, honesty, faithfulness and respect.
  4. Do not overlook evil or shrink from administering justice, but always be ready to forgive wrongdoing freely admitted and honestly regretted.
  5. Live life with a sense of joy and wonder.
  6. Always seek to be learning something new.
  7. Test all things; always check your ideas against the facts, and be ready to discard even a cherished belief if it does not conform to them.
  8. Never seek to censor or cut yourself off from dissent; always respect the right of others to disagree with you.
  9. Form independent opinions on the basis of your own reason and experience; do not allow yourself to be led blindly by others.
  10. Question everything.
Finally, Wikipedia identifies the following ten “commandments” as coming from a pagan source:

  1. Treat the Earth and all that dwell thereon with respect.
  2. Remain close to the Great Spirit.
  3. Show great consideration for your fellow beings.
  4. Work together for the benefit of all humankind.
  5. Give assistance and kindness wherever needed.
  6. Look after the well-being of mind and body.
  7. Dedicate a share of your efforts to the greater good.
  8. Be truthful and honest at all times.
  9. Take full responsibility for all your actions
  10. Do what you know to be right.

So what does all this have to do with coaching? I hope you will join me in the weeks and months ahead to find out. If coaching is anything, coaching is a process for assisting people to live a happier and better life. Through coaching, people become more aware and capable of meeting both their own needs and the needs of others. It is a process for making life more wonderful.

These various moral codes, both ancient and modern, share a lot in common. Although they may say things in slightly different ways, they reflect many of the same principles and concerns that coaches work on with our clients. Without taking the time to cover them all (that would be a 60-week Provisions series), I nevertheless intend to see what these lists have to teach us as to how best to live our lives. I hope you will join me on the journey!

Coaching Inquiries: Which “commandments” speak most powerfully to you? What ones represent your strongest commitments? Which ones represent your weakest commitments? Which ones would you like to explore more fully? How might your life be different if you did?

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form to arrange a complimentary conversation. To learn more about LifeTrek Coaching programs, Click HereTop

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob.


I loved your summary of your series on appreciation. It was an excellent Provision. Thanks.


I loved the book, Eat, Pray, Love. Thanks for Tweeting about the author’s TED talk:www.ted.com/talks/elizabeth_gilbert_on_genius.html


This TED talk was radiant!! I love the TED talks and hadn’t seen this one. Here’s to having the “shear human love and stubbornness to keep showing up!” 



May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

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