What is the purpose of Laws?
Laws are designed to create order out of the chaos that is human culture. Without laws, there is often conflict. They are the baseline for individuals to know what is acceptable behavior as defined by those that govern them. That said, the spirit, as well as value of the laws, are determined by those that make them. An oppressive government will make laws designed to control the masses; laws that are essentially geared towards protecting the government. By the same token, a government that has its power base in the populace, such as a democracy, should be creating laws that protect the people, and control the government.
When men are pure, laws are useless; when men are corrupt, laws are broken.
A danger of creating laws, is they start becoming the ends instead of the means. A law whose intent is to ensure justice and fairness for all is a noble law, and one well worth creating. However when the laws start becoming more about control then justice; when they are aimed to ensure profit and greed flourish at the expense of common sense or better yet common decency, they lose their value in a democratic society. Laws geared towards selfishness and control have no place in an egalitarian society.
It is an age-old question: which has more value, the spirit, or the word of the law? I think that is again determined by the intent of the law. Laws meant to protect citizens, should, by their very purpose be flexible. Situations involving people vary, and the interactions of people can not always be simply defined and controlled by words. When the word of the law becomes more important than the people they are supposedly meant to protect … we are on the road to oppression again.
So what’s my point? We need to stop believing that we can fix all society’s ailments by writing new laws. Ultimately what happens is the only people truly punished or controlled by these laws are the law-abiding citizens who simply make mistakes. Those willing to break laws will just break the new ones. They will only follow the laws when it is to their advantage. There is nothing worse than when laws designed to protect rights are written in such a way that the only ones who truly benefit are those actually abusing those rights.
Where you find the laws most numerous, there you will find also the greatest injustice.
It is up to the people, i.e. US to make sure that laws are fair and actually useful. But more than that, we have to learn to change how people think, and how the interact with each other, to truly bring stability back to our free societies. Hatred, intolerance, ignorance … these are truly the problem. Laws will not eliminate those traits. If anything more laws just make the issues worse. We need to stop hiding behind words, and use our minds and hearts again!