Whose law is it anyway?
Civil society expects us to obey the law. The premise is it is right to be on the right side of law. The law and the rules dictate what one needs to do in a given situation. This works most of the time and society functions. Or societies function. Each society has its own set of rules that members are expected to abide by. Most of the time these rules are applicable to all in a given geographical region. When folks move from region to region they know they are expected to follow the law of the land.
Most do. But then there are always some who feel that these rules are not for them. They then become the outlaws. The law gets into a conflict with the outlaws and people are led to believe that the law always wins. As “good” always triumphs over the “bad”.
But then not everything is as black and white. There are various shades of grey. There are unforeseen situations and actions that cannot be labeled as legal or illegal. Then people get into great debates on what is right and therefore legal and what is not.
Ethics and morality
There are great epics and ballads that set up elaborate plots and situations that look at human relationships, society, commitments and pose questions on what is the right thing to do. These draw upon various lines of reasoning to establish the concepts of a greater good. The lay down guidelines to decide on what is right and what is not.
The results are often bizarre. The Mahabharata is packed with such dilemmas and paradoxes. In the modern day there are questions on the legality and righteousness of suicide and euthanasia.
How do you know what is right?
So how do you know what is right? Do you say that if it is legal then it is right? But isn’t the law formulated by some men with some ideals, values and standards? If the standards change then what is right changes.
There are certain events that do not lend themselves to the debates of right and wrong, good or bad. We do not ask whether gravitation is right or wrong or whether it is good to breathe or not. These are natural laws and consequently beyond debate.
If it is logical, it will happen
I similarly feel that if something is logical it will happen. The human mind may not be able to comprehend the totality of a problem or an issue and thus may not be able to deduct the next logical step in the process. Consequently we act at times in an illogical manner. We like to believe that we have acted by “free will”.
This business of the random free will is more a matter of the physical universe than a meta-physical one. So most probably we take decisions that we are – given the biological machines we are – most likely, or logically, to adopt. The consequences are a matter of logical progression.
Till the time we are able to comprehend this universal logic (and agnostics will say it is impossible to do so) we will flounder in contextual ethics and morality of the evolving species. We will need simpler guidelines and rules. The belief in the supremacy of the law is safer proposition.