Why do we have laws?

When I ask people this question I usually get a response along the lines of ,” Without laws we would have anarchy” to which I have to wonder if that would be so bad. It’s not like this highly regulated litigious world in which we live is paradise. Laws have not eradicated all of the problems associated with people living together. Also, law has not been a constant in human history but an invention which probably only dates back five thousand years and has changed dramatically over the course of history. There is no evidence or reason to suspect that the early, mostly egalitarian hunter-gatherer societies had a system of laws and some of these societies have still managed to survived until this day. Granted, they don’t have planes, trains or automobiles but they also don’t have war or crime.

Anyway, I’m not here to argue in favor of anarchy. I think that if we simply turned off the legal system one day that the results would be disastrous.  Laws may not be necessary but they certainly seem necessary in modern societies. I want to ask the question of why laws have become necessary, what that says about modern society and what are the benefits and consequences of having a law based culture.  Certainly this could constitute a person’s life work but it’s not my life work. I just have a few ideas that I want to get off my chest.

The first thing that comes to mind is that we have laws because, as a species, we kind of suck. We say that laws are the foundation of our civilization but the very fact that we need laws just tells me that we are not very civilized. If we accept that we need laws then we also need to swallow the bitter pill of reality and accept that we are not evolved enough to live without them. The fact is that human society has evolved far faster than human biology.

Certainly societal, as well as technological advancements, have been aided by the invention of laws but what if laws have also had the unintended consequence of hindering biological evolution. My limited understanding of evolutionary biology and natural selection tells me that over time desirable traits in a species will get replicated while undesirable traits will become muted. Is it possible that laws have allowed people to reproduce and pass along traites that if it weren’t for these laws would have been eradicated long ago? I know that is a dangerous idea and rings of Social Darwinism, but seriously, if murder was legal I’m pretty sure that the genetic trait causing someone to think killing a member of their own species is a good idea would quickly be removed from the gene pool.

Actually, that is a pretty sensitive subject for me. It’s not really something I can joke about so I will leave that to Louis C. K.

I don’t even think I could write a song about it but thankfully Soul Asylum has done that for me.

I certainly don’t need a law to tell me that murder is wrong. I have evolved past that kind of thinking as I think most people have. These laws really only apply to that class of people who are not as evolved as us. These are the people we call criminals. We need laws so that we can identify who the criminals are. That’s why I don’t understand the gun rights advocates who claim, “If we outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns.” That seems like a brilliant idea! We could eliminate crime by just rounding up all the gun owners and removing them from society. Problem solved. Of course I don’t believe that criminals are a class of human singled out and removed. Besides, we already have drug laws to do that.

And then there are the laws that have nothing to do with morality, identifying right from wrong and conveying it to the masses too unevolved to figure it out on their own. There are plenty of laws which serve the whole of society and allow us to function in this modern world. Traffic laws, food safety laws, building codes and environmental protections attempt to serve the common good by creating uniformity, predictability and by reducing the potential for harm. Still, in a more perfect world we could probably handle this through education with standards, guidelines and traditions.

The real reason why we need laws is because they are essential to enforce a hierarchical system. In order for the powerful to retain power they need to the rule of law. Historically laws have been written by the rulers to benefit the rulers. Even in our modern liberal democracy laws are written by the powerful and primarily serve to preserve the hierarchy while giving the illusion of equality.

This is not to say that human and equal rights protection laws are a bad thing. I’m just saying that they are only necessary in a hierarchical society. I’m a big fan of the First Amendment, obviously, but you only need to grant freedom of speech to people who are not free.

Ahhh… there is so much more that could be said about all this and I’m sure that I will in the future. For now I am hoping you will help me out by posting your thoughts in the comment section.


Cold is the absence of heat

When I woke up yesterday morning it was 10 degrees below zero on the Fahrenheit scale. That is 80 degrees Fahrenheit colder than it was for me a week ago. That’s not cool! Not cool at all. It is down right sucky! I’ve been thinking a lot about the cold lately. It’s kind of hard to think about anything else, but then I remembered, there is no such thing as cold!

No! Seriously, cold is not really a thing. I’m not talking in an existential sense or in some new-agey mind over matter way of thinking. I’m talking science. I’m talking fact and the fact is that cold does not exist. The world which we have created in our minds is a dualistic world of good against evil but in this case there is no duality. What we perceive as cold is not really cold at all, it is merely the existence of less heat than our bodies would like.

Heat is real. Heat is thermal energy. With more thermal energy, temperature rises; with less thermal energy, temperature falls. At the temperature of −459.67° Fahrenheit or −273.15° Celsius there is no thermal energy. This is called absolute zero and it cannot get any cooler. Icecubes and refrigerators do not cool things by adding “cold energy”, they merely displace heat lowering the temperature.

The same is true for light and dark. There is no such thing as dark, it is merely the absence of light. This is not just a semantic argument. I know what people mean when they say, “It’s really dark in here.”, but that doesn’t make it any more true. We walk around everyday, going about our business, happy as clams believing in this thing called darkness but it is not real. It’s a delusion. And people call me crazy!

But enough fun and games; how about something a little more serious?  What about life and death? I’m not asking a spiritual question about life after death where we are united with all our friends and family who have gone before us and everything is beautiful with clouds and angels and cherubs with harps. I’m asking a real world fact based question with spiritual and philosophical implications.

That fact is, there is no such thing as death. What we call death is merely the absence of life. There is no “death force” to fight against. We can’t fight death because death does not exist. We talk about dying like it is a real thing but the fact is no one dies, we simply lose our life and this is coming from someone who very nearly lost his on multiple occasions. Life is really all we have. We can have more of it or less of it but if we seek death or fight death we are wasting our life energy because death does not exist. Death, like cold or dark is a figment of our delusional minds.

So how about that spiritual question? What about the ultimate duality of good versus evil? As we look around the world it is pretty easy to find examples of evil, but what if this too is a delusion? What if what we perceive as evil is really just the absence of good?

I don’t think that there is a way to definitively answer this question. I don’t think that there is any way to prove the existence or nonexistence of evil, and I don’t see many scientists out there testing the theory. This really is a spiritual question but spiritually we can find an answer. What if we assume that there is no such thing as evil, how would life be different? What if we dealt with what we call evil the same way we deal with what we call cold or dark? What if the only way to  eradicate evil was by providing and protecting good? What if we stopped fighting hate with more hate and accepted that love is the only power we have?

I’m not claiming to have the answer to whether evil exists or not but when I look at the world as it is and try to understand it in the absence of evil, I come up with better solutions. Life is better when I stop expending energy trying to fight evil and focus on doing good. Just as it is when I stop expending energy trying to fight the cold as instead seek heat or when I stop fighting the darkness and instead seek light. Life cannot be lived by fighting death, only by seeking life.

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