Tikkun Magazine, Winter 2011

The Decalogue as an ABC of Human Behavior

by Hans Küng

The twenty-fifth anniversary of Tikkun coincides with another anniversary, a very sad one: fifteen years ago Israeli Prime Minister Itzhak Rabin was murdered. I would therefore like to offer as my contribution to this twenty-fifth anniversary issue the text of a statement I made in Tel Aviv, right on the place where Rabin was murdered. My statement is part of a TV film on Judaism within my TV series on the World's Religions (1999).

How far modern Judaism still is from the middle way between a religionless secularism and a fanatical fundamentalism became evident in the middle of Tel Aviv, where the Israeli Prime Minister Itzhak Rabin was murdered. Here Judaism should have contributed its whole tremendous religious and ethical legacy to this new world era. For there is hardly any other people which has something as substantial and striking to offer as Judaism with its Ten Commandments. As the German writer Thomas Mann explained after the terrors of National Socialism, these are the "basic instruction and rock of respectable humanity," indeed the "ABC of human behavior."

And this "ABC of human behavior" must also be applied to global politics and global economics in a time of globalization.

Of course, global politics must recognize national interests -- the real divisions of power. But that does not mean that the political end hallows all means, that the political end also hallows political murder, treachery, even war.

And of course the global economy, too, has to recognize particular economic laws and consider the practicability of implementing all that it has to offer. But again that does not mean that profit, however justified it may be, hallows all means, including breaches of trust, including boundless avarice and social exploitation.

Without a global ethic, global politics and global economics threaten to end in global chaos. At all events, without a global ethic there can be no better world order, an order that brings more justice.

What will the future be?

At present no one knows how the cultural battle between the secular and the religious will turn out. It is certain that the people in Israel also yearn for peace, for friendship, for love and for a successful life. Judaism, this religion of admirable continuity, vitality, and dynamics, will certainly find a way here and elsewhere to a future in which it becomes possible to experience what one of its primal words says every day: shalom, God's peace for the people and the peoples.

Hans Küng is president of the Global Ethic Foundation in Tübingen, Germany, and professor emeritus of ecumenical theology. Among his many books are Global Responsibility; A Global Ethic for Global Politics and Economics; and, with Rabbi Homolka, How to Do Good & Avoid Evil.

Source Citation: Küng, Hans. 2011. The Decalogue as an ABC of Human Behavior. Tikkun 26(1): 53

tags: Israel/Palestine, War & Peace  
Tip Jar Email Bookmark and Share RSS Print
Get Tikkun by Email -- FREE