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Society Without Law.


dirtius maximus

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Mostly lurking through the week I saw something interesting, and I believe it was BCspace who posted it, it is a speech delivered at Havard in 1978, here is a part of the speech:

"A society which is based on the letter of the law and never reaches any higher is taking very scarce advantage of the high level of human possibilities. The letter of the law is too cold and formal to have a beneficial influence on society. Whenever the tissue of life is woven of legalistic relations, there is an atmosphere of moral mediocrity, paralyzing man's noblest impulses." (there are other aspects of this speech worth discussing, but maybe another thread)

What more could a society have other than law? A religious society would be governed by religious law, a secular society would be governed by secular law. What "noblest impulses" could be paralyzed because of the law whether religious or secular. But as for the letter of the Law, I recall reading a post in another forum where on the person was lamenting that they only got 30minutes for lunch, the employer said "That is that all we are required by law to give".

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The Rule of Law removes people from the vagaries of tyrants (religious or otherwise). It is a floor of expected societal behavior, not the ceiling of human opportunity. It gives notice so people can conform or make informed decision not to. While an employer may use that excuse that is what is required, the fact is that any organization or government or person CAN if they choose to more than what is required. In fact, the the story Jesus told disciples about when the Romans asked them to carry the cloak for a mile --- the law--- they should carry it two, shows that choosing to do more than required is what empowers a people.

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Mostly lurking through the week I saw something interesting, and I believe it was BCspace who posted it, it is a speech delivered at Havard in 1978, here is a part of the speech:

"A society which is based on the letter of the law and never reaches any higher is taking very scarce advantage of the high level of human possibilities. The letter of the law is too cold and formal to have a beneficial influence on society. Whenever the tissue of life is woven of legalistic relations, there is an atmosphere of moral mediocrity, paralyzing man's noblest impulses." (there are other aspects of this speech worth discussing, but maybe another thread)

What more could a society have other than law? A religious society would be governed by religious law, a secular society would be governed by secular law. What "noblest impulses" could be paralyzed because of the law whether religious or secular. But as for the letter of the Law, I recall reading a post in another forum where on the person was lamenting that they only got 30minutes for lunch, the employer said "That is that all we are required by law to give".

Besides religion or secularism, you may have left out culture or tradition. Take Japanese society for an example. I think most Japanese people would be astounded at the disrespect paid by students and children to teachers and parents here in America. The respect of elders, parents and teachers is something very much a part of their culture, not imposed by law, religion or secularism.

Did that respect grow out of religion at one time? I can't answer that but it exsits there now as a part of their culture.

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... [T]he story Jesus told disciples about when the Romans asked them to carry the cloak for a mile --- the law --- they should carry it two, shows that choosing to do more than required is what empowers a people.

Indeed, Jesus's teachings are replete with invitations to go above and beyond what is written in the law. Most of the Sermon on the Mount compares and contrasts the "lowest common denominator" of mortal law with the Divine invitation to higher aspiration: "... it is written ..." versus "... but I say unto you ..." :)

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Indeed, Jesus's teachings are replete with invitations to go above and beyond what is written in the law. Most of the Sermon on the Mount compares and contrasts the "lowest common denominator" of mortal law with the Divine invitation to higher aspiration: "... it is written ..." versus "... but I say unto you ..." :)

Absolutely. He even showed how, in some cases. dogged adherence to the Law can be counterproductive. For example, he pointed out that it is a greater sin to leave one's beast in a pit than to rescue it on the Sabbath. Also NOT healing the sick or harvesting grain for the hungry are greater sins. This is why the law must be written "in our hearts". The letter of the law or, living life "by-the-numbers" will never be enough.

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Laws have no power to stop tyrants. Tyrants dispense laws related to tyranny, in fact.

People who live laws (of freedom or God) are not tyrants; or have the capacity to bind tyranny away from the community.

Laws are lived by fear or love. Those obeying from fear will entropy from the law as soon as what they fear is no longer present.

Thus, all true laws are those that can be loved and lived in love.

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