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Morality and the Common Law

Justice-Golden-Rule.jpegMy belief in the idea of unalienable rights and their relationship to crime has become interwoven with my understanding of spiritual truth and morality. In fact, I can no longer separate them, which means my spiritual beliefs and my political views are in harmony with each other. For that reason, this second article in this series will focus on my understanding of morality and the common law. I’ll start by taking a look at the spiritual principle commonly referred to as the Golden Rule.

The Golden Rule

The Golden Rule is found in one form or another in all the major religions and cultures around the world. Here’s a link to passages from various religious texts related to this principle. (http://www.religioustolerance.org/reciproc2.htm) The Golden Rule can be stated in the positive or in the negative. The positive expression is “treat other people the way you would like them to treat you,” or “do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” The negative expression is, “don't treat other people in a way you wouldn’t want them to treat you” or “don't do anything to someone else that you would not want them to do to you.”

I believe the nearly universal nature of the Golden Rule is the result of something God has also given to every human being—a conscience. Our conscience is the still, small voice found in our heart that tells us what is right and what is wrong.  Conscience arises from compassion, which suggests the idea of “common passion” or “common feelings.” Because we feel hurt, angry and sad when someone trespasses against our unalienable rights, our compassion should tell us that other people have similar feelings when we trespass against their rights.  

The youngest child screams out in pain when someone hurts them. They fear threats to their life and health. They express grief and anger when something they created is destroyed or taken from them, or when they are forced to comply with things they don’t want to do. Even criminals value their own lives and liberty and seek to protect their own property.

Thus, compassion gives us all a conscience that allows us to recognize what is a proper and improper way to treat others. We can recognize when bad things are done to us because of how it makes us feel. So through compassion and our conscience we should also have no trouble recognizing that it is bad for us to do these things to others. Of course, people can harden their hearts, loose their compassion and ignore their conscience, but any person with a compassionate heart will feel guilt and shame when they cause harm to others. Only those who have hardened their heart against conscience and compassion will justify themselves in trespassing against the rights of others.

The Law of the Harvest (or Karma)

Law-of-Harvest.jpegThe Golden Rule is inseparably linked with another spiritual principle, one that is known in Eastern religions as the law of karma and in Christianity as the law of the harvest. This law is also found in physics, which tells us that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. The law of the harvest is the law of cause and effect, and it is one spiritual principle that I am absolutely convinced is operating on all of us at all times.

Any farmer or gardener knows that to grow the crop you want, you have to plant the right seeds. The crop is pre-determined in the nature of the seeds.

The choices I make are the seeds I plant and the results I experience in my life are the crop. Liberty gives me the right to choose the action, but it does not give me the freedom to choose the reaction.  The reaction is built into the nature of the choice, just as the nature of the crop is built into the seed.

We all recognize that the laws of nature can’t be violated. I can choose to step off a cliff, but I cannot choose to fall up. My beliefs don't matter at all. I can say, “I don't believe in gravity,” but that won't stop gravity from operating on me. If I step off the cliff, I will fall!

I believe that the law of the harvest works in the same way that the laws of nature do. The Golden Rule isn’t a principle I can ignore and get away with it. The law of the harvest or karma means that the positive or negative consequences of how I choose to treat my neighbor will flow back to me bringing the happiness or misery I cause others back into my own life.

Freedom, Accountability and Responsibility

Forgive me if I belabor this point, but it is essential that this principle is clearly understood. My freedom only extends to my choices; it does not extend to the consequences of those choices. The consequence is the natural outgrowth of my choice and is automatic in the nature of how the universe functions.

The law of the harvest is the inescapable responsibility that goes with freedom. While I am capable of using my free agency to trespass against the unalienable rights of another person, I am responsible for the trespass and will be held accountable for it. This is the Divine law, something that the Founding Fathers referred to as the law of Nature and Nature's God.

Again, your belief in this principle will not alter the fact that it is continuously operating on you. To understand this principle better, I highly recommend reading the essay Compensation by the American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson. Better yet, don’t just read it; study it. It explains this concept better than anything else I have ever read.

Common Law and Justice

The common law is the law of Nature and Nature’s God. It is based on the Golden Rule, the law of the harvest and the principles of responsibility and accountability. When a person violates the common law by doing something to another person that they know would be a crime if someone did it to them they have committed a breach of equity. Equity is the real basis of equality.

As long as every person in a society is respecting the unalienable rights of others, we have equity or equality in a society. When a person trespasses against the life, liberty or property of another they have created an in-equality in society. This in-equity or iniquity for short must be corrected if all the members of society are to continue to be equal.

Justice is a scale of social balance or equity between people. It is based in our sense of what is fair, which is tied to our conscience. This inner sense of justice is present in the smallest child when they proclaim, “That isn’t fair!”

All of this brings me back to the question I proposed in the first article in this series, which is, “When are we morally justified in using force to deprive another person of life, liberty and property?” The word justified in this sentence, is the same as saying, “When is it just (or fair) to use force?” The answer is that we are morally justified in using force to correct injustice or inequity in society.

Casting our Moral Vote

As I see it, the individual who breaks the common law has cast his or her “moral vote” against the concept of unalienable rights. In effect, they have said, I do not believe this other person has a right to their life, liberty or property. Having trespassed against the unalienable right of another they have lost their right under the law of the harvest to the protection of that same right in themselves.

We can hold them accountable for the trespass because they are responsible for any loss their victim suffered as a result of their trespass. Therefore we are morally justified in forcing the criminal to correct the in-equity between them and the person or persons they trespassed against.

In Summary

Freedom is something we are born with. It is our unalienable right. The desire for it burns in the hearts of all people. This is why the oppressed will always rise up against their oppressors when given the opportunity to do so. Unfortunately, all too often the oppressed become the oppressors and perpetuate the cycle of injustice.

This is why only a society that offers “liberty and justice for all” can endure in peace. Any faction or minority in a society that is being denied their unalienable rights will not only feel justified, they will be justified, in fighting against the iniquity that is being committed against them. This is why America was not set up as a democracy. It was set up as a republic, and I will explain the difference in the next installment in this series.

Part Three: America is a Republic, Not a Democracy



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