Since 1973, the ABC television network has broadcast Cecil B. DeMille’s “The Ten Commandments” during the Easter/Passover holiday season.
The 1956 movie follows Moses, played by the great Charlton Heston, as he leads the Jews away from their Egyptian bondage (at the hands of Ramses, played by the equally great Yul Brynner) and toward the Holy Land.
Adjusted for inflation, the movie is the seventh-highest grossing film of all time, won an Oscar for Best Visual Effects (who can forget the scene where Moses parts the Red Sea?) and remains a favorite, evidenced by ABC’s nearly annual airing.
The real Ten Commandments, etched upon stone and brought down from Mt. Sinai by Moses during the exodus out of Egypt, are often thought of as God’s don’t-do-this-or-you’ll-go-to-hell list.
What they really are are an outline for healthy living.
Similar to the book of Proverbs, which I always remember my grandmother describing to me as a guide for avoiding unnecessary problems in life, the Ten Commandments can also be seen as a list of Ten Encouragements. God is encouraging us to not steal, lie, murder and the like because those activities merely introduce us to “Death and all of his friends,” as the band Coldplay sang.
Today, in a country stressed by political division and negativity dwelling, we need some encouragement. I know I do. Rather than myopically obsessing over the latest political scandal or America’s relative imperfections, we should focus on the nation’s overwhelming positives. Here’s my list of 10 encouraging things:
1 — President Trump isn’t a traitor. For all his foibles and faults, at least he’s not a Russian operative, at worst, or Russian dupe, at best, as Democrats and the media portray him. Trump is neither; he’s doing his best to restore America’s stature as a great, unapologetic nation.
2 — For all the race baiting out there, the throngs of white people cheering for Tiger Woods as he won the recent Masters golf tournament in Georgia prove America, as a whole, isn’t racist. Those outside the media and political bubbles know America long ago conquered its racist demons.
3 — Nobody in America is truly poor. Visit a foreign country and you’ll see real poverty, sickness and despair. Our poorest are rich compared to those in the Third World.
4 — America has the greatest natural landscape in the world. And we have a superb national park system that will preserve it for generations.
5 — America’s air and water are cleaner than ever. Environmentalists have worked hard to remind everyone to get, and keep, them clean. Visit China or India and you’ll chuckle whenever you hear extreme environmentalists say we are no better than these polluters.
6 — Despite our tinkering with insurance, our health-care system is amazing. Relatedly, deadly pandemics such as polio, influenza and the measles (except for silly people unwilling to take the MMR vaccine) are mostly a thing of the past, thanks to miracle cures.
7 — America’s military is strong. Pax Americana is now, thanks to our volunteer warriors.
8 — We enjoy a golden age of entertainment. Movie theaters are full, streaming TV service reigns at home, Broadway belts out big hits, and the music scene is diverse. Art of all kinds is plentiful and affordable.
9 — Similarly, we are in a golden age of information, thanks to the internet and still-surviving legacy publishers. Some of it is evil, but, mostly, the internet enlightens us about the world.
10 — Last, but definitely not least, our economy has never been better and provides ample opportunity for individual success.
John Balentine, a former managing editor for Sun Media Group, lives in Windham.