Monday, May 28, 2012

Delphic Maxim #2: Obey the Law

This is part of my commitment to posting once a week on the Delphic Maxim.  This first post was originally added to my personal journal, and I am cross posting it here for the sake of continuity.  There has been some editing on my part to clean up the writing, correct spelling, and properly credit others of ideas they presented me.

I'm an American and the laws in this country are mostly good rules that I agree with. Day to day life I generally strive to obey the laws in paper and spirit. Some laws like rules of the road are not moral issues but just a set of guide lines that we need to follow as a society to get along. I actually value these guide line laws more than the “moral” ones because that's what makes day to day coexistence possible.

All that said there are laws I'm morally opposed to, anything that attempts to obstruct gay marriage or that may limit a gay/bi/trans person's ability to work in a chosen field or live in a certain area. I'm also against any laws that restricts women's reproductive rights or rights to health care of any variety. I'm against laws that enable corporations to care less about their workers or the community in which they do business. I'm against laws that allow banks and other money lending groups to give money out at rates or in amounts that the group knows an individual will never be able to repay.

There is a lot I can do to combat this within the scope of the law and I do that. I write to my representatives. I go to protests and marches. I raise money for awareness and to support my causes. I stay as well informed on these issues as I can and have learned how to politely but firmly discuss my view with others to help raise individual awareness. I support legal challenges to laws I find unconstitutional and I've had occasion to bring the threat of legal action down on those not following the letter of the law.

Often time legal means of change, in a country like the USA are better than illegal means. It distances one from “extremism” which has become a four letter word in our political discourse. To be extreme means to hate you opponent and to be willing to slaughter to get your way, pair this with 9/11 and your cause is rejected before you even have the chance to really present it.

Beyond that, we're a country that is as a whole willing to listen to different perspectives and views. Our lack of homogeneity makes it hard to get any one thought enacted or to standardize curriculum, but it also makes us used to the idea that there are other views and that these views have validity or something to teach us. I think one of the few good things about a 24hr news cycle is that it shows people have interest in what others have to say on a national and global level. The pundits our loud, annoying, and offensive, but that you can make a living shouting is something uniquely American.

This doesn't mean I'm opposed to illegal means of supporting my cause when I believe it will do more good than harm. I think Martin Luther King Jr proves that sometimes one needs to make extreme and illegal moves to get ones point across. When an establishment is so prejudiced and opposed to your view that they will not allow you to get permits for a march or an assembly, sometimes the best thing one can do is go ahead with the march or assembly anyway.

I would help plan and perform a gay marriage in any state regardless of legality. I would help a woman or group of women seek reproductive independence in a safe medically sound manner regardless of cost or legality. I would teach youth a full sex education class including abstinence and I would reject ever teaching a child intelligent design because anything less is an insult to knowledge and a mockery of what our schools systems are in place for.

Were there a draft right now, I would help contentious objectors avoid going to war. If there was a draft right now and women were not included in the lottery, I'd help anyone who wanted avoid the draft as no draft that effects half of a fit population can be fair or just.

There are forms of eco- “terrorism” that I can't help but admire.

Even as I tell others to respect the limits of public land and the rights to private property, I know I don't do so myself. When I see something interesting on my drive I do pull over to investigate and often photograph it. I have no idea if the land is public or private. I don't know if I'm trespassing and whether I've put myself it to true and deep danger. I know I'm a curious and impulsive person who felt called and responded. This one in particular I'd agree is petty and stupid, but not morally wrong. In some ways, I think attempting to bar access to land is the bigger moral imposition.

I've never been good at obeying that which I don't respect. It's often prudent to work within the law and to at least give lip service to the ideas or intent behind the law. It's not a moral mandate. Heck, one of the Gods I follow is Colombia and even she doesn't make it a Godly mandate to follow the law. Liberty, justice, and truth first for her and the law will follow from there.

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Article copyright Swift Rabbit/ Southern Pagan Muses

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