A Perspective on Law
Early Morning Thoughts
This article is the result of my thoughts on the state of the world, and contains a perspective I think might be interesting to others.
So often I wonder about things like the rule of law and why we follow such arbitrary constructs such as legal codes. What is their purpose and why do they control nearly everything we do every single day. Laws come in all shapes and sizes, from theological law to contemporary law, from criminal law to laws about children. Laws are the rules by which a society functions, or doesn't. Law coexists with consequence, members of society enforce the law because they are entrusted to do so. The consequences of breaking a law are based on the law that was broken, and are designed to discourage anarchy. There are positive benefits to laws, such as peace and security. The virtues of law often lead to organized society and economic growth. Laws inherently have downsides, however.
When a law comes into being, there are questions which rise to the fore front of the discussion. Questions like: How will this law be enforced? What is the penalty for breaking it? Who will this law benefit? What will the effects be? Will people break this law by accident, and how do we prevent that from happening?
The biggest problem I find is that most people neglect nearly all of those questions, and then accept the law as fact or in most cases don't even realize the law exists. The thing I hear most often from people is, "It doesn't affect me, so why should I care?" The problem is that law, no matter what kind, affects you. Whether directly or indirectly, we are all affected by every law that our countries put into place.
The second most common thing I hear is, "I was told this law was supposed to help with 'this or that', so I think it's a good thing." The problem here is that while it's great you trust someone, it's possible that person is just as clueless as you. People every day have an agenda and many are ready and willing to do whatever they believe is needed to see it through. Not every agenda is altruistic, in fact, most aren't. We tend to often be the unwitting victims of other peoples plots. While you're thinking about how cool it'll be to see that new movie tomorrow, someone else is thinking they want to get rich, and yet another person is thinking about robbing a bank, while someone else simply can't stop thinking about which chess move to make next. If there are murders and criminals in the world that aren't behind bars, you can be sure that there are murders and criminals writing laws. It's always a fatal mistake to believe you're the exception. While we are quick to blame people in power, sometimes the best way to remove corruption is to check your own heart. Before you point a finger at someone else, it's always best to ask 'what have I done lately?'
On the topic of criminals, it's another strange convention of law that you are branded a criminal if you break one. Criminals are often divided into classes based on their offense. What if a criminal's offense was something mundane, or even helpful, like picking up garbage or racking the lawn? I would argue that many times in history someone has broken laws for doing exactly those things. To anyone who read the charge, it'd seem absurd... but the problem is that most people would have never known those laws would have existed in the first place, and since everyone is in 'I don't care' mode, it keeps happening.
So what's the point? Laws are a fact of life, what are you going to do about it? Well, this is the part that gets me. In countries like the United States, laws are the way the country is supposed to mature. Laws replace the 'divine right to rule' clause of so many feudal societies. Laws in the U.S. are designed to be crafted from consensus and redrafted if they are unpopular. The problem is that isn't happening anymore. Here in this republic, we are getting strong-armed into accepting laws that weren't legal to begin with. What's worse is that we are being trained to like it. Conditions are applied to our way of life and we fear what might happen if we go against those conditions. That problem turns into a bigger one if it goes on long enough, where you have people's fear become a reality even though they've done nothing wrong. The penalty is applied anyways since it was illegal in the first place. Nobody cares. That's the problem here is that nobody cares. In order to have a republic, you must have equal participation. Ballots by themselves are meaningless.
In the bible, it says that 10% tithe of your time, talent and treasure is recommended to the church for the faithful. Most Christians never pay in that much, or even a small fraction of that sometimes. Imagine what 'we the people' could accomplish if we all put in 10% to our government. I'm not talking about tax money either, taxes are often part of the problem. We think that since we pay our taxes, we are absolved of all other obligation. I'm talking about 10% of your time and talent for the week. I'm talking about getting involved in your communities, in your local governments. Making a difference, connecting, and exposing corruption and incompetence. In a republic, our public servants should represent some of our best and brightest, not the people that the bankers, oil merchants, and foreign interests pick for us. Remember what I said earlier about the fatal mistake being the assumption you're above blame? No party is immune to this issue. If people don't pay attention, the most powerful interest takes precedence. Is that a world you want to be a part of? A world where you are obsolete and in the process of being phased out on someone else's whim?
I was raised on the idea that humans should always be reaching, to always try, to search for that something more. I would think that's why we are here. To develop ourselves into ever evolving, better versions. That should be the goal, shouldn't it? Is there any more powerful and far reaching goal than self-improvement? While we are doing that, wouldn't it be great to get along? Well, how do you think that happens? I'd argue that it's law. Not the law of a government or agency here on earth, but the law of your own heart. Not the law your heart was born with, but a heart tempered with love. It's time for people to care. Stop reacting and complaining about what's going wrong. Stop rioting and hurting others. Stop these wonderful countries we've been given from destroying themselves.