The Rule of Law vs. The Rule of Love

I Listened to a TED talk the other day from Barry Schwartz. It was part of the TED Radio hour on. NPR. The topic was Broken Systems.

Dr. Schwartz shared the story of a father and son who went to the ball game. Dad bought Jr. a lemonade. Not knowing any better he bought Mikes Hard Lemonade, an alcoholic beverage. Someone noticed. And even though medical tests demonstrated the kid had no booze in the system he was place in foster care for three days. He could move home if Dad was out. After three weeks
everything is back to normal.

At every step of the way in this process the “authorities” said they did not want to do what they did but they felt they “had” to. They felt they had to because they were afraid of what might happen if they made the wrong choice…(litigation, job loss, jail time…). The point being made is that we have created a rule bound society where we no longer use the wisdom of common sense because we are
afraid of the legal ramifications. Isn’t that sad.

We see this again and again. Someone makes a poor decision so we write rules and regulations to prevent this. We then have a rule bound system that is opposed to common sense.

In the same breath do not hear me say there is no need for any regulation. History has demonstrated that sensible regulations (speed limits, red lights, no insider trading allowed) have been beneficial. So what are we to do?

Many have said and I will echo them, that we can’t legislate good behavior (morality). The truly deviant will find a way around it. So then what? Does it boil down to morality teachings? If so who’s morality? There are those moral authorities who teach intolerance; should we follow them? What about those that say it is all relative, anything goes?

I wish I had the answer. Perhaps it is as simple as reminding ourselves to avoid the Seven Deadly S
ins (wrath, envy, greed, lust, pride, gluttony, sloth) and to love one another.

So what the heck does this have to do with the Immeasuable Things?… Well I figure if we do right by ourselves and our fellow citizens we can reduce the  regulatory burden and we can develop more trust between ourselves and our organizations. Life then becomes easier.

But for those that violate the trust Justice should be served swiftly and publicly. It is though the public display of our values that we create a culture. We can have a culture of greatness.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *