Law. A word that binds every single one of us on some level or another. Law. A single entity that dictates the very momentum of life. Law. An established system of rules which a particular country or community recognises as regulating the actions of its members, and which it may enforce by the imposition of penalties. It is said that Law is hard, but it is the law. I read some works of Aquinas when I took a Philosophy class in school and it offered a view that I had never given much thought to before. Once I understood the essence of his statement I started to question everything I knew from History and Society about what Law really was. How many governments, monarchies and nations have committed ruthless brutalities all in the name of Law.
The law is hard, but it is the Law. How many people have suffered and lost because the Law demanded it. Countless. Countless generations have diminished and perished all in the name of Law. Soviet Law under Stalin killed millions of innocent people during his reign from the mid twenties, until his death in 1953. German Law under Hitler killed millions of innocent people and drove countless more out of their homes before and during the Second World War. History gives countless examples. But let’s take a more recent example; ISIS and it’s brutalities have killed, exiled and destroyed a countless number of innocent civilians, ruined childhoods and created a refugee crisis so large, no one knows what to do with themselves. They do this to obey their own version of Law, a bad Law.
I read another book recently that brought to my attention a feeling put into words so accurately it was crystal clear. LEX MALLA, LEX NULLA. A bad Law, is no Law. Aquinas pointed out that “human law is law only by virtue of its accordance with right reason; and thus it is manifest that it flows from the eternal law. And in so far as it deviates from right reason it is called an unjust law; in such case it is no law at all, but rather a species of violence.” (ST I-II 93.3 ad 2). Law should be there to create a balance in society, to bring forth the best of humanity and to ensure that violence cannot be made precedence. Yet, as we can see all around us today, fear is the child of events set off into motion by the maintenance of bad laws by governments, minorities, whatever name you would like to give them. A bad law is a species of violence so large it is all-encompassing.
Perhaps it is an idealistic form of thinking but when we all realise that a bad law is no law, maybe fighting against fear brought on by those people would become easier. We need to understand that sometimes refusing to follow a bad law is the right thing to do, the moral thing to do. The Law should never be put into practice and followed because historical, social and cultural norms dictate that is must be so, whether they are for the good or not. Laws should be practiced and obeyed because they create balance, bring out the best of our societies and create peace, not just for once group of people or for a nation, but for all of humanity. A friend of mine also brought to my attention another point that is impossible to ignore. Is it possible to have a non-historical and non-cultural law? Some principles could survive through time, but every law can be said to be a sign of its time. But we have to start somewhere in order to make this world different for the next generations to come, to eradicate fear, violence and terror. Law governs everything and law makers need to understand the power such a thing holds to create better ones. LEX MALLA, LEX NULLA. A BAD LAW, IS NO LAW. Some food for thought. Where would you start?