laws and walls

“Like wars, forest fires and bad marriages, really stupid laws are much easier to begin than they are to end.”

-Matt Taibbi

Laws and walls have some notable similarities, not unlike the parallels between psyche and soma, as in psychesomatic symptoms. A law is basically a prohibition, a written codification of what is not acceptable behavior. A wall is a prohibition in that it prevents one from entering a designated space. Of course, walls can have doors which allow one to pass through the wall in the same way laws have loopholes. Both laws and walls seek to limit access to places and contain behavior. Laws and walls prohibit. They do not encourage. They regulate movement in ways that may be restrictive and even regressive. To oppose such containment is not unhealthy for the human spirit is expansive. At the same time, conventional guidelines, rules and behavioral customs is generally not coercive and does make social living more sustainable than anarchy. For example, the ‘law’ of traffic signals prevents a lot of collisions.

Laws and walls that prohibit activities, essentially, do not work. That which is prohibited is not stopped. It just now becomes against the law. Certain human behaviors are made into a crime. A good example of this is the prohibition of alcohol. It may have been against the law, but the walls that prevented it were easily circumnavigated, and alcohol was available for consumption. In some respects that which is designated as prohibited can become more appealing. No amount of laws or walls or punishments will prevent a person from doing what they want if they really want to do it. In addition to being inherently expansive, the human spirit is also defiant, rebellious, and mischievous.

Perhaps the ultimate prohibition is ‘thou shalt not kill.’ But, that has not prevented killing. All of the ‘thou shalt nots’ do not prevent them from happening, they only make those activities punishable. Fear of punishment is effective, in the short term. In the long term it can promote defiance and rebellion though more commonly deception, cheating and lying. A linguistic problem with prohibition is the mind cannot visualize or grasp ‘do not.’ If instructions were given to not think about monkeys in the trees, you can’t help but think about monkeys in the trees. Monkeys in the trees is what the mind grasps, not the ‘do not think.’ It is often more effective to state what is acceptable or wanted, as opposed to what is prohibited or not wanted. For example, ‘thou shalt not kill’ can become ‘thou shalt nurture.’ Or, ‘thou shalt not steal’ can become ‘thou shalt appreciate what thou hath.’ Even something as simple as everyday expressions, such as ‘don’t forget the car keys’ can be rephrased to ‘remember the car keys.’

There is an intersection between the walls of laws and freedom. Collisions are not uncommon. Freedom is not license to do whatever one wants just as compulsions to do whatever one wants is not freedom. Desire, appetite and hunger are driving forces which can easily trample on freedoms of others. The ‘freedom to’ is countered by the ‘freedom from.’ Freedom from tyranny does not mean one is free to impose their will upon another, without their consent. Freedom from tyranny means one is free from the drive to dominate. One person’s ‘freedom to’ can be, at the very same time, a prohibition of another’s ‘freedom from.’ The missing piece in the arguments around freedom from and freedom to is ‘responsibility.’ Responsibility is not doing what you are told to do or following the letter of the law. It is an ability to respond to life as it is, not predicated on laws or walls, but on one’s own intrinsic intelligence.

Living together in societies is complicated. Laws and walls are erected to help maintain order, which is a form of restriction and containment, but can also prevent a lot of collisions. If laws worked, they would not be needed. That no law, no wall, can prevent anybody from doing anything if the desire, appetite and hunger is sufficient enough, is testament to the futility of trying to contain the human spirit. The task at hand, for every single person, is self-governance. A society composed of a self-governed populace is, perhaps, the most appealing, if even the most difficult, for the freedom to govern oneself is the beginning of conscious intelligence. There is an inverse correlation between the laws of the land and the intelligence of the populace such that as intelligence decreases, laws increase; as intelligence increases, laws decrease. Imagine a world in which there are few laws, and a lot of common intelligence….intellectual intelligence, mental intelligence, emotional intelligence, physical intelligence, social intelligence, environmental intelligence and spiritual intelligence. Intelligence is intrinsic to life. It only needs to be liberated from the tyrannical laws and walls of fear which are, primarily, not in the soil of the land but in the mind of the populace.

In addition to social laws, and walls, there are also psychelogical laws, and walls. These are represented by the numerous ‘musts,’ ‘have tos,’ ‘can’ts’ and ‘won’ts’ which permeate the psyche, the mind. One of the most noble applications of intelligence is in questioning our own psychelogical laws and walls, most all of which are hand-me-downs as a legacy, and a burden, or constructed during formative years and become entrenched in the mind. Either way, the laws and walls constructed in the mind are often outdated, restrictive, punitive, irrational, illogical and silly. Do yourself a favor and apply your intrinsic intelligence to examining, questioning, challenging and perhaps even changing your own internal laws and walls.

Of course, it should also be noted that human behavioral laws, whether social or psychelogical, are different than ‘natural’ laws. Natural laws apply to all of Nature; human laws apply only to humans. It is a mistake to impose or project human laws, and walls, and morality, onto Nature. Nature is not human-centric; nor is it human-hearted. And, yet, Nature is sustainable. Whatever the laws and walls erected by Nature, they work. Understanding, and aligning with, the Laws of Nature, can reduce a lot of human frictions and collisions. 

“Wise people, even though all laws were abolished, would still lead the same life.”

-Aristophanes


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