How much freedom can we handle?

The Ten Commandments were necessary because Moses saw that the Hebrews couldn't handle freedom in a self-regulated way. If somebody gave them a table of food they wouldn't eat what they needed and leave the rest for someone else, they'd gorge themselves until they got sick and threw up. When they felt the stir of love, they wouldn't look for a mate to tenderly embrace, they'd have orgy and wring themselves sexually dry until they were filled with self-loathing. The Chosen People were rapidly going down the drain until Moses saw that they needed what all other undisciplined children, Hebrew or otherwise, need: external regulation. He used every weapon at his command to whip them into line, appealing to their superstition, fear, guilt and anxiety. They were so out of touch with their own instincts that they couldn't tell the difference between right and wrong so he arbitrarily made up a bunch of "shalt nots" and saved their necks in the process. They've worshiped him ever since.

The thin veneer of freedom which exists in America is, unfortunately, all that the vast majority of human beings can handle. More freedom than this, which would require us to take more responsibility for our own destinies, would make nervous wrecks out of us and we would reject it.

--Orson Bean