The other Ten

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 June, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 June, 2006, 12:00am

As roadside attractions go, the Georgia Guidestones in America could hardly be described as inviting. Perched on one of the highest hilltops in Elbert County, Georgia, they bring to mind the monolith in Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Etched on the four giant stones that prop up the common 'capstone' are 10 commandments in eight languages (Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, classical Hebrew, Swahili, Russian, Hindi and English). They read as follows:

1 Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature.

2 Guide reproduction wisely - improving fitness and diversity.

3 Unite humanity with a living new language.

4 Rule passion - faith - tradition - and all things with tempered reason.

5 Protect people and nations with fair laws and just courts.

6 Let all nations rule internally, resolving external disputes in a world court.

7 Avoid petty laws and useless officials.

8 Balance personal rights with social duties.

9 Prize truth - beauty - love - seeking harmony with the infinite.

10 Be not a cancer on the Earth - leave room for nature.

The commandments raise several questions. Why all the hyphens? How do you slash the world population from six billion to 500 million while maintaining an attitude of tempered reason? And, above all, in the light of the lack of a signature, who says? Apparently, a shadowy figure calling himself Mr Christian says, or rather said.

The story goes that in 1979 a grey-haired, silver-tongued stranger with that name approached Wyatt Martin, president of the Granite City Bank, with an unusual proposition. Claiming that he represented a group devoted to bettering the lot of mankind, Christian said he wanted to build a monument with a message. The location had to be a remote part of Georgia, away from tourist traps.

Why Georgia? Because of the presence of good granite, the mild climate and the fact that Christian's great-grandmother was a native Georgian. Martin convinced the visitor that Elbert County was the perfect place.

As you might expect in a country founded by religious zealots, some see the monument as the work of the Antichrist. The conspiracy-nut perspective is that it expresses the population control agenda of a new world order.

According to History Channel pundit Ned Barnett, the monument is just 'very, very strange, and oddly compelling. The designer knew how to create impact - I'll say that for sure.'