Much as everyone else in America, I’ve been thinking a lot about hurricane Katrina and the destruction it has caused in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. During a discussion I had with an old Tanzanian-American friend, our conversation touched on the topic of lawlessness, the reason’s we need to have laws, and why law enforcement is a necessary part of our society.
The first question you have to ask, is why do we have laws? Laws were created to enforce a certain code of morality and ethics upon a society. If everyone had high morals and acted upon those, then there would be no need for laws. It’s a classic case of the 10% rule – 10% of the population ruins it for everyone else. We need those laws to protect us from those who have no ethics or morals, they give us a legal right to punish them for infractions upon society.
In the course of our conversation, I stated that I am no great fan of some of our laws and law enforcement officials. Why is this? This is because I already have a personal code of ethics and morality that is based on the biblical standards that I was raised on. I don’t need a law, or a cop, to keep me from looting, raping or killing – I wouldn’t do those even if there was no law enforcement around.
This isn’t to say that I am better than everyone else, or that I am somehow above the law. I have the temptation to break the laws, just as everyone else does. However, there are certain principals that you have to live your life by, even if they mean that they cost you your life in the end.
The reason that we employ sheriff’s, policemen and security is because there are people out there that have no moral compass. We pay people to take the burden off of us “good” citizens, so that we don’t have to chase the bad guys down and apprehend them.
Back to New Orleans. The roving gangs, the looting, the raping and killing – all of these are just a sign of the decline of morals within a society. The thin veneer of civilized society, no matter the color or income level, vanishes in the storm. People’s true colors shine through as they are faced with the option to do whatever they want to do, no one is telling them “no”.
Though some would like to throw their nose up at New Orleans as a “corrupt” and “moral-less” city, it begs us to ask a question: How far removed are you personally from those actions yourself? Do you have a moral compass that keeps you within the bounds of normal society even without laws or law enforcement to force you?