“Let the law be written not merely upon the statute book, but upon the hearts and minds of intelligent citizens…(C)onstrained obedience…is little less than slavery.” Edmond Fairfield, 1853
Respect the Law ??
The other day, I was riding in a car and the driver shot through a stop sign without really slowing down very much. It bothered me, not because I felt unsafe, as there were clearly no other vehicles around, but because running stop signs is just not something that you do.
But why is that? There was clearly no car coming. I guess that answer is, I don’t want to live in a lawless nation, and I don’t want my children and grandchildren to either. I’m just concerned about where it will lead.
My wife and I were in Tegucigalpa, Honduras several years ago, staying in a rather tall building overlooking a big intersection with a traffic light. When traffic was heavy during the day, people obeyed the traffic light, but at night many totally ignored it.
One morning before sunrise, I was staring down at that intersection as car after car shot the red light. Shortly a car on green entered the intersection just as another one was shooting through on red. They both screeched and swerved and nearly collided. A local there told me their lights are only suggestions.
I am convinced that America is much safer and that we prosper more because we believe in the law and obey it. This is a defining difference between us and much of the rest of the world and we want to treasure it and not lose it.
“The surest way to have the laws respected is to make them respectable.”
It is for this reason that it bothers me so when police disrespect the law and speed right in front of our eyes, or give cards to friends to give to other patrolmen who stop them.
That said, I want to tell you that I am not lily-white. I was at a gas station recently and when the attendant took forever to come fill my tank, I filled it myself. When he chided me, I told him that if he were that slow next time I’d do it again.
And I am always driving five to eight miles over the speed limit. I don’t feel right about these things, but I continue to do them because certain laws strike me as silly. So, by ignoring them, I’m promoting lawlessness and undermining what I believe in.
I wrote down a quote recently by Frederic Bastiat that registered with me. He said, “The surest way to have the laws respected is to make them respectable.”
I think it is important that we fight for laws that we believe in and fight against laws that we don’t. We owe it to our grandchildren and to all those who sacrificed so much so we can live in this great nation. In the meantime, I’ll struggle to obey those I find silly.
Art Hall, publisher
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