Now, before I go one step further, I must draw your attention to one distinct kind of Law, and start from there.
At school, in general science, we learn about (for example) about “The Law of Gravity”. Furthermore, at all times, day in and day out, in everything we do, we understand what The Law of Gravity means to us. We don’t have any choice in the matter. It means that we are stuck to the surface of the Earth day and night. It means that, to leave the Earth’s surface takes effort (called ‘jumping’), and that – more often than not – we won’t get very high, and will always return to the Earth’s surface.
Now I point that out, because it’s called “a Law”. And there are many others like it. I could name them, but I won’t bore you (in that respect at least!) The point is that we can collectively call them “The Laws of Physics” or – better still – “The Laws of the Universe”.
They are inviolate. They are incontrovertible. They are implacable. They apply at all times, to everyone and everything, without ‘fear or favour’. They are LAWS in the truest sense of the word.
An important point to note is that “We” (humanity) DON’T MAKE THEM. All our Scientists have ever been able to do is to ‘discover’ them. And – as far as possible – create mathematical formulae to express them.
Now, a lot of people will say that The Bible is Law. But that can’t be correct, because “The Laws of Physics/Universe” don’t appear in the Bible. And then they’ll say: “Aaaah … no … I meant the Law for People is in the Bible!”. But that doesn’t work either, really, because the Laws of the Universe are also the Laws for People … simply because people are affected by the Laws of the Universe … just as much as anything else organic, and everything inorganic.
So, personally speaking, I feel obliged to work it out for myself, from scratch, but based on the Laws of the Universe. Obviously anyone who wishes to call the ‘Laws of the Universe’ the ‘Laws of God’, on the basis of God creating the Universe, and thus creating those Laws – well, that’s absolutely fine by me. Just so long as we talk about the same thing.
And, by doing that, I have established a yardstick for “Law” i.e. inviolate, incontrovertible, implacable, applying at all times, to everyone, without ‘fear or favour’. So, what else falls into that category? Well, nothing, really. But there is something that almost does – it’s called Common Sense. And, what’s more, we DO need some kind of “Law” so as to enable people to “Live together, within a community, without too much acrimony”.
And most (if not all) of us know what that would entail – by virtue of our Common Sense. We know (more or less) what upsets other people. We know what doesn’t. How do we know? We just know. And that ‘knowing’, by virtue of our in-built Common Sense, as called The Common Law.
The Common Law is not, strictly speaking, written down – although its ‘basics’ can be, in the form:
2. Do not deliberately cause loss to another, and (as far as possible) take sufficient precaution such that it doesn’t happen accidentally;
3. Do not deliberately breach another’s peace, and (as far as possible) take sufficient precaution such that it doesn’t happen accidentally;
4. Do not employ any mischief in your promises, agreements, and arrangements.
However, it isn’t really necessary to write that down. Because we all know it to be true. Native American Indians have a way of saying things, based on their philosophies, which actually resonate everywhere. One, Chief Seattle, is quoted as saying (in relation to religions): “Your religion is written on Tablets of Stone, whereas ours is written in our hearts”. He was, of course, referring to the Ten Commandments. However, Chief Seattle could just as easily have said: “Your Law is written on pieces of paper, whereas ours is written in our hearts”. However, he did not say that, and would have been incorrect, if he had done.
For the simple reason that Our Law is also written in our hearts. And it’s called Common Sense. And it forms our Common Law – which is also known aslegem terrae in Latin, or “The Law-of-the-Land” in English. And Our Law, our Common Law, is almost as inviolate, incontrovertible, implacable, applicable at all times, to everyone, without ‘fear or favour’- as are the Laws of the Universe.
So, that’s Law, what it is, and where it comes from.
You don’t think that’s true? That Common Sense is as fixed as the Laws of the Universe? Well, even capuchins and other species have it … so it’s pretty Universal, as far as I can see.
How it is applied, within the Human species, is by means of Juries of 12 ordinary people, listening to facts, and making a combined decision called a ‘Verdict’. And that’s the only difference, in practice, between The Common Law and the Laws of the Universe. In the latter case no Jury, no vote, no opinion is required – e.g. things fall downwards, and that’s all there is to it.
But, it would seem, I’ve missed out a whole lot of things from this discussion so far. I’ve missed out Parliament, Acts, Statutes, Judges and Magistrates – and everything in between. The reason I’ve done that is very simple – this was a discussion about Law, and they have nothing to do with Law.
Which may sound a bit surprising (to say the least!). But it IS true. One quick example? Statutes can be repealed … they have been on many occasions. Can you repeal Common Sense? Can you repeal any Law of the Universe? I suggest that a characteristic such as ‘cannot be repealed’ is a very powerful characteristic. A DISTINGUISHING characteristic. Thus it distinguishes between Law and non-Law.
So what are Acts of Parliament, and Statutes if they are not Law? And what are Judges and Magistrates involved in, if it is not Law? The answer to that is ‘Legislation’. To create ‘Legal’ situations, ‘legal positions’, ‘legalities’, etc. But not Law … if you wish to define Law as ‘inviolate, incontrovertible, implacable, applicable at all times, to everyone, without fear or favour’ – as per the Laws of the Universe.
The problem, of course, is that everyone has always been encouraged to refer to Legislation as “Law”. Thus the ‘inviolate, incontrovertible, implacable, applicable at all times, to everyone, without fear or favour’ attributes of Law are taken on by Statutes. In everyone’s mind, at least. Thus a Parking Offence becomes as serious as breaching The Law of Gravity.
There’s another distinguishing characteristic between The Laws of the Universe and Legislation. The Laws of the Universe cannot be broken, thus there is no penalty for breaking them. Legislation ALWAYS includes prescribed penalties for violations. In the case of The Common Law it is possible to break it, or course, but in this case a Jury decides the punishment to fit the crime, once again, by virtue of its innate Common Sense.
Thanks to Veronica ChapmanNone found.