I don’t want someone to kill me, and I don’t want anyone to take my stuff. Almost all law, as I see it, is predicated upon those two premises. The first, regarding murder, can be extended to physical harm, or psychological harm as well. The second causes all sorts of interpretations, many of which stem from defining “What is my stuff?, and Who agrees with me about what my stuff is?”
Most other laws are really agreements we make in order to move about and interact more pleasantly. A good example of these are stop lights and signs, and highway speed limits. Even these, though, are explicit in what we can’t do, rather than what we can. Street lights do tell us when we can “go” as well as when we must “stop”, but highway speed is “limited”. And we push at those limits, don’t we? I’ve even heard people say: Well, the speed limit is 45, so I drive 50.” Hungh? That is not a logical statement. In my area, penalties increase for going more than 10 miles above the speed limit. Why? Either it is a limit, or it’s not. Ticket me for going 46, and I’ll not argue. 😉
So we come to the subject of penalties. Penalties go into effect if we breach the agreements we’ve made, or those made on our “behalf” by government officials. The concept of penalty or punishment is alien to me. I don’t believe punishment is either god-given or necessary, but something we humans invented to control each other. Punishment is only meted out against a “weaker” entity–weaker either by physical strength, or because of psychological coercion. If we each mind our own business, we needn’t worry about what the “other guy” is doing. I sound a bit Libertarian, here, but I don’t just harbor this attitude from a logical or philosophical standpoint, but also a spiritual one. If I “mind my own store”, as it were, I will just naturally form around me circumstances and personnel that support my notion of a good and joyful life. This never, for me, would be enhanced by trying to convince someone of my point of view. I won’t say I never do this (try to convince someone, I mean) —sometimes it seems I can hardly help myself. But, when I do, I generally don’t feel better for it, and even if I’ve talked someone around, I don’t, ultimately, take much pleasure in that. People must be free to embrace their own guidance.
Where does that leave us with laws? I find I (technically) “obey” most of them, but that is mainly because to act in other ways–to steal from you, for instance–does not enhance my well being, and is not a way I’d want to be treated myself. That’s the ticket, really: It comes back to the golden rule. It is only fear that makes us believe that we are less powerful and valued than we truly are, and therefore must concern ourselves with creating laws to get others to do what we wish. If we’re able to just do what we wish for ourselves, and spend time every day reflecting upon how blessed we really are, then perhaps a law will be passed outlawing “laws”. 😉
A lingering voice says: “But, but, but, other people don’t do that”. I know, voice. What I also know is that as long as I concern myself with what others “might” do to me, I’ll never be free. I choose freedom over law. Amen.