Required Reading (and Writing)


It hadn’t struck me before, though I know I’ve read it dozens of times, at least. What a great idea for efficient government! I wonder if we could do it today?

I was doing some Bible reading the other day, and came across these words in the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy:  When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the Levitical priests.  It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees and not consider himself better than his fellow Israelites and turn from the law to the right or to the left. (Deuteronomy 17:18-20)

What do you think? is this something that should be a requirement for modern lawmakers? The king, upon ascending the throne, was supposed to write out all the laws of the kingdom. That gave him a good knowledge of what he was supposed to administer (and an incentive to keep laws brief and simple).

Furthermore, he was to read those laws (though maybe not all of them) every day of his life, to ensure he remained familiar with them. He was not just to know the laws though, he was expected to obey them, to not consider himself better than his subjects.

Our laws today are far more complex than when Moses laid down those simple rules. Maybe it is too much to expect our lawmakers to write out our laws, or even to be familiar with all of them. It would be a good thing though.

However, it is not too much to expect those in charge of the law to be subservient to it. Our politicians are supposed to be servants of the people, though there are plenty of examples of them forgetting that and putting themselves above the law. It seems to happen in democracies and dictatorships alike, which may be a reflection of our fallen humanity – rules alone can’t save us.

The world may not change overnight, but change would indeed come if we held our leaders to a higher standard. The Jewish people, coming into the Promised Land after years in exile in Egypt, understood that 3,000 years ago.

For a while they even managed to hold to those standards, and they flourished as a result. I wonder what would happen if we tried it today? Are we ready to demand that those in charge adhere to the highest ethical behavior? Or have we decided that politics is a dirty business, all politicians are crooked, and there is no point in even trying to make things better?

Seems to me the choice is yours.

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