Written on the Heart: Some Thoughts on the Law

scales of justice

Rather than share my thoughts on law I figured it might be better to ponder the words of some other, more learned, people. I like these quotes because most of them seem to hint at what Jesus meant about fulfilling the law. However, they often they seem to be suggesting that what we call The Law is not doing a good job of holding up God’s Law.

Do any of these words resonate with you? Or, on the other hand, which ones do you think are off base?

Perhaps you have a quotation or thought on law that you would like to share.

If you have ten thousand regulations you lose all respect for the law. Winston Churchill

You cannot make good men by law and without good men you cannot have a good society. C.S. Lewis

This is a court of law young man, not a court of justice. Oliver Wendell Holmes

Every law is an infraction of liberty. Jeremy Bentham

It would be better to have no laws at all, than to have too many. Michel Eyquem de Montaigne

When men are pure, laws are useless; when men are corrupt, laws are broken. Benjamin Disraeli

Good men must not obey the laws too well. Ralph Waldo Emerson

The law is reason, free from passion. Aristotle

We eagerly get hold of a law that serves as a weapon to our passions. Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Certainly one of the highest duties of the citizen is a scrupulous obedience to the laws of the nation. But it is not the highest duty. Thomas Jefferson

Laws and institutions, like clocks, must occasionally be cleaned, wound up, and set to true time. Henry Ward Beecher

It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important. Martin Luther King Jr.

It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for law, so much as a respect for right. Henry David Thoreau

Say what you will about the Ten Commandments, you must always come back to the pleasant fact that there are only ten of them. Henry Louis Mencken

I have spent all my life under a Communist regime, and I will tell you that a society without any objective legal scale is a terrible one indeed. But a society with no other scale but the legal one is not quite worthy of man either. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

In a state where corruption abounds, laws must be very numerous. Publius Cornelius Tacitus

There is but one law for all, namely that law which governs all law, the law of our Creator, the law of humanity, justice, equity — the law of nature and of nations. Edmund Burke

Democracy is not the law of the majority but the protection of the minority. Albert Camus

Justice that love gives is a surrender, justice that law gives is a punishment. Mohandas Gandhi

No law or ordinance is mightier than understanding Plato

Laws are like cobwebs, which may catch small flies, but let wasps and hornets break through. Jonathan Swift

Sacrifice, which is the passion of great souls, has never been the law of societies. Henri Frederic Amiel

And here is one more for the sake of perspective and perhaps a little irony. Abbas has been a leader of the PNA, PLO and Fatah;

We have one authority and one law and everyone has the responsibility to follow that law and that authority. Mahmoud Abbas


  1. #1 by Robert on July 22, 2008 - 10:32 am

    “Don’t get me started on bicycle helmet laws. How did Wally and the Beaver ever survive?”

    I go round and round with my wife on this every spring when i dig out the bikes for the kids…

    She: “We have to get them helmets and pads!”

    Me: “What the hell for?! Their top speed is 18 mph downhill!”

    She: “What if they fall!?”

    Me: “They get scratched up! Call it a right of passage!”

    She: “If i can spare them pain i will!!!”

    Me: “You gonna mend their broken hearts too!?”


  2. #2 by Christian Beyer on July 22, 2008 - 10:39 am

    Yeah, the difference here is that my wife is more of a ‘libertarian’ than I am. That being said, one time when my son was very young he took a spill and cracked his helmet on a tree. And he sustained no injuries. Which has enabled him to go skateboarding and snowboarding today without a helmet. Not to mention boot camp in September. I’ll guess they’ll give him another helmet.

    Double sheesh!

  3. #3 by akaGaGa on July 23, 2008 - 1:44 pm

    Can I join the conversation? I’ve been a libertarian for over thirty years. One of the things that pushed me that way was the first seatbelt law here in New York state.

    As a teenager, I was fairly wild and crazy, but still had a modicum of common sense. As was the custom of the time, I did not wear a seatbelt. Then in my twenties, I became pregnant with my first child. After giving this some thought, I decided I was now responsible for two, so I would wear a seatbelt. I decided this all on my own, without any law to coerce me. A year or two later, it became law. I was furious! Legislating this common sense action robbed me of my reward for making a good decision.

    As more and more of these laws are written, people have less and less positive incentive to make good decisions. People are trained to think in terms of legal consequences, instead of natural consequences. As government continues to intrude into our decision-making process, people will eventually be trained not to think at all. Just do what the government says, and everything will be all right. Just the right conditions, of course, for an up and coming fascist state.

    I think this is the biggest danger in laws like this.

  4. #4 by Christian Beyer on July 23, 2008 - 2:03 pm

    Please do!

    Good point. What was it that Ben Franklin was supposed to have written?

    “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

    The most obvious recent example of this is the Orwellian named Office of Homeland Security. Even bigger, the national “War on Drugs”, in which have mandatory sentencing that fills our prisons with people who may need help, not punishment and we allow the state to seize the homes of parents whose children smoke weed.

    Thanks Gaga. Keep comin’ back.

  5. #6 by Maurice Kane on July 24, 2008 - 8:24 pm

    The essence and the nature of freedom is that adult human beings [as owners of their own lives] can choose to act , or to refrain from acting, wisely or foolishly and it is not the province of the self-appointed guardians of common sense and sagacity to determine how others act provided they do not defraud, coerce or act aggressively towards others. Parents of unemancipated children can compel their young charges to wear helmets, shin-guards and knee-pads. I need no third-party guardian. I need no nanny to guide or guard me.

  6. #7 by Christian Beyer on July 25, 2008 - 11:16 am

    Maurice I heartily agree. Although I think there can be exceptions. But as that would imply, this should be exceptional situations. What we have now are restrictions placed upon the minority in order to protect those who may lack better judgment.

    Of course, the (nanny) state tends to flex it’s muscles more often with responsible citizens who have run afoul of one of our endless laws than with those who really do cause a threat to society. Tickets for lack of seatbelt use, seizing the property of drug users, jail time for tax offenders – these ‘criminals’ are easier to arrest, prosecute and punish because they tend to be generally ‘law abiding’.

    Thanks for joining in.

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