What is law?

According to the ancient Hawaiian philosophy, which I read a long time ago, they had a rule which said, “you can do anything you want to do as long as you don’t hurt another.” Simple and brilliant. Yet I had to think how it could be possible that I wouldn’t hurt another, because we all have our own value and soft spots in places which nobody else would have guessed. My answer to the self was that you would have to face a person with mindful consideration and conversation, and take care of each person as an individual you appreciate as a part of the whole. I still think that these indigenous cultures share the deepest wisdom of all.

In a more modern society, law is “an authoritative system of religious or secular norms, written or unwritten, which govern a society, can empower or discipline its members, and can be enforced by sanctions” (Mann, Trischa, Australian Law Dictionary, (Oxford University Press, 2013) 432

In our ordinary life, it is nearly impossible to fully face each and every person we encounter. In fact, I feel that we hardly face the closest person in our life; not absolutely all of the time. We are busy. We have too many people to communicate with. And so we assume most of the things about another by our previous knowledge and experience, and probably with a bit of prejudice. What more, we each have our own psychological dent, which screw our judgements. And I assume that we so often step over another’s boundary and invade their comfort zone without knowing. It is my view at this stage that a law is something which reminds us that we share a society with others. And law is something that which aims to keep us going in a similar direction.

Law is what ties together the part of our life where decisions based on moral and ethic ( and kindness and compassion) could be challenged; i.e. when a party proposes a profit. Law is something that is definitely required in places where many different beliefs gather. It collectively draws a line for us, so we don’t walk over another’s right terribly; even though we will probably still do a little. And for those who must see the negative consequences in order to do the right things, law also indicate punishments; that an effective law must be enforceable and appropriate for its jurisdiction. I suspect that the more we become blind to each other, the more we require the law to rule.

I also feel that law alone is never enough to keep peace. We cannot rely on law to toughen each time somebody slips though the loop hole. We need something else; probably in line with care and awareness, and an understanding that we all need to make some effort each to maintain harmony together.

(Expanding on my recent online discussion, answering a question: “What is law?”)

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