Rule of Law

Recently we’ve been flooded with important cases relating to the rule of law.  I’d name a few, but for certain I’d miss somebodies important one.  Take your pick.  They’re all important, and they all demonstrate how complex “law” is in a country of 330,000,000 people and a long history of some sense of democracy.

In the even you’re interested in “law” generally, even if not part of the legal community, I have a resource you may at minimum simply like to browse.  Perhaps something within will peak your interest.

Some time back I was browsing some potential archival materials for an organization I’ve long been part of, now called Citizens for Global Solutions (CGS), previously called United World Federalist Association (WFA).

The group was founded in the wake of the founding of the United Nations in 1945.  WFA first organized in 1947; it changed its name in 2004.  Its focus has always been on the need for a system of laws in which a diverse national and global society can at least function without going to war, or dictatorship.

In a box I found a 52 page pamphlet published in 1959 by the American Bar Association, as a series of ideas for discussion of the American legal system at the time of Law Day, proclaimed by President Eisenhower in 1958.  (In 1958, the U.S. population was approximately 181,000,000, slightly more than half of todays population.  Neither Alaska nor Hawaii were states in 1958)

I pdf’ed the booklet, which is presented here in four parts (my scanner was being irritable).  But all the pages are there, and I invite your taking the time to take a look.  Here are the pages. (cover – 17) Law Day Am Bar Assoc 1959; (pp 18-24) Law Day (2) Am Bar Assoc 1959; (pp 25-43) Law Day (3) Am Bar Assoc 1959; (pp 45-52) Law Day (4) Am Bar Assoc 1959.

The booklet is written for a general audience, for use in local events.  My favorite short essay is “Law in Treehouse World”, p. 49.

How are things the same in today’s world, compared with 1959?  How do they differ?  And what difference does that make?  These and many other questions are worthy of exploration.

POSTNOTE:

Coincident with my idea of forwarding this booklet, a good friend, a retired Priest and long-time activist Harry Bury, sent to me and several other friends his summary view of contemporary issues.  I simply submit his writing as his thoughts, food for thought and debate.  His thoughts are shared with his permission.

I have two issues that I observe seem to be ignored by politicians and
the media. I wish you would respond to each, if you would be so kind.
1) There are evil people in the world and to keep them from continuing
to do evil we perceive society needs to threaten punishment or administer 
punishment. We justify our behavior by calling it justice.
I believe punishment and the threat of it are not justice but vengeance.
 Moreover, they do not work. Recidivism rate throughout the world is
 about 80 percent. Many times people come out of prison, moreover, and
 commit even greater violence because they were violently treated in
prison or by the Justice System. Most wrongdoers do not change their
minds but look for better ways to get what they want without being caught.
I suggest we consider that there are no evil people only good people who
do evil things, believing what you and I call evil, they consider good things
 to do. In other words, I do not believe that wrongdoers are evil and
need to be punished, but good people who are mistaken and need to be
educated, rehabilitated, restored, and reconciled. They have been socialized
to have different values from that of society through no fault of their own.
In addition, to encourage people to change their minds, when it comes to,
for example, racism or unbridled nationalism, kindness works far better
than punishment. Processes that focus on developing empathy and
compassion, not through lectures, but through experiences, tend to be
far more effective. I believe the same in terms of acts of murder and rape.
( See chapter 11, The Story of Effective Justice for Lawbreakers in my book, An
Invitation to Think and Feel Differently in the New Millennium).
Hence, lets change our Justice System to do away with punishment with its
violence and replace it with the goal of changing minds and behaviors
through kindness and understanding. Hence, not blaming the wrongdoer
but understanding that the wrongdoer was taught different values from
that of society and needs to learn new values through being treated 
with kindness and understanding.
2) A second issue for me is the dualistic thinking that both the Democrats and
Republicans practice. ( Either/Or thinking, Black or White, not ever non-dualistic
thinking, which is grey and sometimes referred to as compromise, when it comes
to abortion.) The Dems seem to want to kill the fetus and the Republicans want
 to punish women who choose to have an abortion and others who assist them
in doing so, such as doctors. They refuse any other considerations apparently.
I suggest non-dualistic thinking. Namely one that makes it so wonderful for
 pregnant women to give birth that they would CHOOSE to do so because it
 is so clearly in their self interest and that of the child, not only financially
 through university but also emotionally. Society would treat her with honor
 in bringing another child into the world, whether she is married or not.
As a result, abortion clinics would go out of business for lack of business, if they
 exist only to administer abortions and not serving other female health issues.
The above are two issues in which I do not see adequate media or political attention.
I am asking you to address them both, since you are kind enough to ask me for my
opinion.
With Gratitude,
Fr Harry

 

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