Living by Law, not by Wits...
09 June, 2011
Living by Law, not by Wits...

Let’s for the starters get into agreement on what means what, so that we do not confuse things, and then discuss the issue! Using a couple of smart dictionaries would not hurt right now: if you live by your wits you are trying to gain a livelihood by craftiness and cunning rather than by hard work and by the functioning law; and if you live by law you are inscribed into the situation in which the society obeys the law

and enables it to function properly. 

Law is a system of rules and guidelines, usually enforced through a set of institutions run by the people. It is presumed that no person is above the law. The good news though is that nobody is going to be punished by the law if a person does not breach the law. However, one may be convicted for breaching the law only in the fashion established by the law itself. Doesn’t everything sound very simple? Yes, but the problems start popping up abundantly when it comes to the principles, ways and methodology of enforcing the law. There are judicial cultures in the world, like American, within which law enforcement is elevated to the level of religious belief in the necessity and indispensability of living by law; at the same time there are societies, like ours, with inchoate form of judicial mindset and approach, based on which living by one’s wits (not by letter of the law) is still a norm. Why? Why the difference? My affordably educated judgment is that law-enforcement needs to be supported and reinforced by a tradition of law-abiding citizenship in general, which will never be perpetuated without relevant legal education. The law per se and the societal mindset has to be developed and inculcated in a parallel regime, almost simultaneously as two organic parts of the same process. It is of course true that law could be imposed on people and put into effect by an existent state power, but this might be equivalent to violence and will not be compatible with the democratic ideals which happen to be so trendy and popular nowadays around the globe. Law has to be enforced peacefully, with the consent of the governed and the willingness of people to cooperate. And for this to happen, society will have to give an impetus to the public habit of voluntary and benevolent administration of law provided the law is fair and reasonable enough to have been publicly accepted and embraced. Law in the first place is a form of public convention, which means that by decreeing a certain law society has agreed to be ruled by it with the purpose of protecting itself from unlawful action of a definite part of that society. And if it is a public convention, the public is naturally willing to let the law be enforced. And the public has to be mature and ready to treat law as something based on general public agreement, which is leading the society to consensus. And all that has to be made part of the mindset of all of us the individuals – the components of the society, made up of general public. This will never happen unless we think that living by law is correct and living by our own wits is wrong. And again, live and learn, just live and learn – the more the better – to make it easier for us to accept and recognize that law in general means to be living and working in peace, and feel ourselves protected. Does it make any sense to be ignorant of all that?

 

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