What is right versus what is legal

Out of many one
What is legal should be what is right. Just laws are passed to bring equal protection and provide societal stability. Law must balance the rights of the individual with what is best for society. There is an observable circle or cycle. What is good for society is good for individuals in the big picture and over time. Conversely, what is good for individuals over time is good for society. Cohesive societies approach what is good from different vantage points and build upon different foundations. Communist, Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim and Christian beliefs have all produced cohesive societies. They cannot last, however, if their people are not unified around what is considered right and good for them individually and collectively.

Unity is not sameness. Unity is when many parts come together as one whole on the basis of shared beliefs and with a common goal. The particulars of those beliefs and how the principles are lived out can vary. What must not vary, if long-term cohesion is expected, is agreement around the core.

There can be disagreement as long as there is room for tolerance of those who disagree and those who disagree can live in the midst of those who are different. Muslims, Christians and Jews all agree idolatry is wrong. Muslims such as those in ISIS interpret idolatry as a picture or painting of any living person which makes the possibility of unity in a broader context difficult if not impossible. Whites can live in the middle of a predominantly black neighborhood as long as everyone agrees that every life matters. Atheists can live peacefully, even vocally, in the middle of very religious people as long as both sides find common ground in community laws and practices. Political solutions can be at odds with each other as long as the goal sought is what both sides strive for.

No two snowflakes are the same and neither are any two humans. To insist that unity equals sameness is to condemn the very prize to an early summer. Unity melts away. People of different races, sexes, religious beliefs and approaches to life can live together in harmony as long as there is a common goal and willingness to disagree agreeably. When one side villanizes the other and instantly tries to marginalize them with labels such as bigot, hater, and willful discriminators used in a malicious way, communication and common cause end.

Thirteen different colonies found unity in a national government severely restricted to a few powers such as national defense and interstate commerce. Their common cause is one of the most quoted sentences in America from The United States Declaration of Independence. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” People came from a variety of countries, religions, and economic abilities. They were not the same, but they were of equal value under the law in America and guaranteed equal opportunities if not equal outcomes. The goal was to give everyone the favorable conditions in which to live and pursue their dreams.

An outgrowth of this equal opportunity clause is what is called civil rights. The most common legal application involves the rights guaranteed to U.S. citizens and residents by legislation and by the Constitution such as freedom of speech and freedom from certain types of discrimination.

Not all types of discrimination are unlawful. States that prohibit the open carrying of firearms discriminate against those who desire to do so for their own protection. Communities that require you to be clothed in public discriminate against those known as nudists. Polygamy is practiced in some countries today. Should those citizens come to the United States they might well feel they would be discriminated against. Civil rights legislation comes into play when the practice of personal preferences and prejudices of an individual, a business entity, or a government interferes with the protected rights of others.

What personal rights are guaranteed? Those society deems invaluable to the pursuit of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness that in turn strengthen the society. There must be unity around this core. The people of the United States must rediscover their common purposes and values. Historically that has been the Judeo-Christian ethic. The American melting pot is changing but the application of some values are mutually exclusive such as nudity versus modesty, polygamy versus monogamy, free enterprise versus socialism, and freedom of religion versus freedom from religion. Unity around beliefs and values that allows great tolerance has produced what some call the greatest country on the planet. Lack of unity will not only lead to the demise of the American experiment as it has been known for two hundred years, but the proliferation of laws that are legal yet unjust.

Unity is what a football team must have to win. Sometimes you block when you would rather be the receiver. Sometimes you hand off the ball rather than pass it. You do what will help the team win whether it is best for your reputation and glory or not.

Unity is what a family must have to be more than a group of individuals living under the same roof.

Unity is what a nation must have to avoid anarchy and provide for the common good. A phrase on the Seal of the United States says it well; “E Pluralism Unum”. It is Latin for “Out of manyone“.

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