Spirit of the Law

Laws create lines between what is acceptable, and what is not. Those borders are not static. They move. Harm and benefit are what move them. For example when it was illegal for women to vote they were treated badly. They were disrespected just because they were denied the power to protect themselves. It wasn’t that treating women badly was right, or smart, but it was considered legal because there was no law prohibiting it. The spirit of the law requires more than the letter of the law, much more. The Constitution requires laws to have a higher purpose. They are purposely written to form a more perfect union…

Obeying laws is not good enough behavior to avoid harming people, or the environment they share. It is not good enough to support other generations. If there was a behavioral report card, simply obeying the law would merit a D minus. Only breaking it would bring an F.  How does it feel to be part of a society whose government behaves at a D minus level? Does that make anyone happy? Hopeful? How will that work out for children? Grandchildren?

Government whose officials disregard the spirit of the law create a disheartening atmosphere. They push down the border of acceptability, making the creation of more harm legal, as they put benefit beyond the reach of increasing numbers of people. As they cast disrespect on vulnerable people, they threaten the vulnerability of even more. Many potential societal leaders laud their own brilliance, as they monetarily reward themselves for being sycophants of the powerful, and the greedy.

Constitutionally speaking: Getting by with injustice is not legal. Failing to defend the vulnerable is not legal. Creating chaos is not legal. Trashing the environment is not legal. Failing to leave the blessings of liberty to coming generations is not legal. The problem is that no amount of law would be enough to protect citizens against people who think it is smart do dodge the letter of the law by failing to embrace the spirit of the law. The spirit of the law is kinetic citizenship, humanity.

The first law of civil behavior is to do no harm. The previously referred to etherial behavioral report card would award anyone who tries to do no harm with at least a C. Law is for the protection of its citizens. It is the spirit of the law that is important. The D minus that barely keeps some people out jail is Constitutional failure, harmful behavior. Sans the spirit of the law, anarchy is legal.

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