Rights and Duties on a Divine Scale- Principle 9

Introduction W. Cleon Skousen’s ” The 5000 Year Leap” is a wonderful book that provides 28 principles related to the rights,freedoms and responsibilities of the individual and that individual’s government as expounded by our ( American) Founding Fathers. This treatise will explore Principle 9 ( Skousen, W. Cleon. ” The 5000 Year Leap,” pp. 131- 139). The Principle under discussion The Ninth Principle explores the safeguarding of our rights.  God has revealed to us certain principles of Law through the agency of the Ten Commandments ( pp.131-2). In a nutshell, these commandments include serving and worshipping God alone, honoring our neighbor, respecting our neighbors’ situation, honoring our parents and setting aside a day of rest, worship and recommitment to the observance of the Divine Law ( pp. 132-33). Our rights and responsibilities The rights we enjoy are safeguarded by the duties that God has enjoined on each one of us to follow, both public duties and private ones. Public duties are enforceable by the State and the States’ law enforcement. When these duties are ignored, these entities are empowered to impose penalties on the transgressor to both deter future transgressions and to discourage the general public from ignoring their own responsibilities ( 133-4). Private duties are ” principles of private morality” that exist between an individual and his or her Creator. They would bolster and encourage their performance of their public duties and yet only the individual may meet those duties through self- discipline ( 133). Anglo- Saxon and Israelite precedents The Israelites and the Anglo- Saxons both personalized public transgressions through the possibility of repayment ( the Anglo- Saxons would have called this ” wergild,” or financial compensation for the harm done by one person to another). For the Anglo- Saxons, a fixed financial penalty would be incurred for an injury or death. The Israelites would impose repayment in kind for  financial loss ( deliberate murder would be punished in Israel by execution of the offender). The Israelites and Anglo- Saxons both held God’s Law to be immutable.  Any kinds of laws that they would pass would be in accordance either with the ancient body of ancestral laws ( also held as unchangeable) or the Law as revealed in the Ten Commandments. Reparations, of course, were a legal and private matter between the offended, the offender and law- enforcement. Reparations by the state ( tax- payers paying compensation for the crimes of others) would be an encouragement rather than a deterrence to crime, as a thief could blithely tell his or her target that the government would restore the stolen property in terms of cash value anyway ( 136-37). These are basic, simple Laws of Nature and Nature’s God that are rewarded in their simple observance. All laws that are valid are laws that are built upon the basic cornerstones of revealed Law and reason. When people look to their own duties, they find their rights being reinforced as well as protected through the observance of those duties. Safeguards for individual freedoms On the final page of this particular chapter, we see how the State can abuse the freedom of the individual by passing oppressive laws to enrich the few and to keep the many in want. Our Founding Fathers had the wisdom to see that sovereign authority needed to be taken out of the hands of the oligarchs and into the hands of the people. Only then are we assured that our ancient rights would be protected by those who could easily be in be a position to abuse their power ( 138). We surely do have rights that are  tempered by responsibilities to ourselves, our neighbors and our God. We must not have an unbalanced view that will put rights over responsibilities ( that leads to a breakdown in social institutions and restraints on unlawful behavior), or responsibilities over rights ( that will lead to State tyranny and public persecution). Our view ought to be a balanced one that sees our rights and responsibilities supporting each other. In this way, perhaps we can return to working on realizing our Founders’ vision of this land as a ” city on a hill” and a ” light to the nations.”

The Criminal Justice System

When it comes to the criminal justice system in this country, I think we can all agree that there is a big problem. Not only are the jails and prisons filled to the brim with “criminals”, but there is also a large disconnect between crimes that get committed, the people who get caught, and the people who are set free. At the end of the day, the criminal justice system in this country is hard to understand and truly define.   Crime in this country has gotten out of control, but in a roundabout, circular type of way. There are countless citizens running around shooting people in schools, at concerts, and in other public, seemingly safe, places. Then, there are people who are at the top, like business owners and CEOs of large companies who are engaging in criminal acts such as tax evasion, insider trading, and more. Lastly, there are street criminals that are engaging in drug dealing, burglary, theft, murder, rape, etc. At the end of the day, it is confusing to define what a crime in this country actually is, and why there are certain criminals who get put in jail, and others who are set free.   LAWS   This country is made up of many laws. Some of these laws work and some of them don’t. And, while some of these laws might not seem to make sense, there is no doubt that they are enforced and must be followed. Day in and day out, laws are constantly being enforced upon the citizens in this country by police officers. And, the purpose of these laws are to keep the citizens in this country in line, and to also, ensure a safe and secure place for us all to live in together. But, if that is true, then why are there still so many crimes being committed today? Why, with all these laws we have in our country, are there are so many heinous crimes that involve violence and hatred still occurring? Crimes such as school shootings, murder, and child abuse. Are these laws that we have today even doing us any good?   It is true that many of the laws in this country were put into place for a reason. There are many laws in place that do make this country better, and there to stop people from doing things that they should not be doing. But on the other hand, there are also many laws in this country that are not rooted in any type of reality, and are not important in any sense of the word.     Who Created The Laws     You might ask yourself, who even created these laws that we live under today? And the truth is that some of the laws in this country were put in place by lawmakers who were attempting to make positive change. The problem is that sometimes, the intended change they were attempting to make never occurred, but the laws still stayed in tact. In a sense, a lot of the laws that we have today are not relevant to the society that we live in. And many of the laws that we have today don’t even begin to touch upon the real and actual problems that we all face on a day to day basis.   Now, I am not here to advocate for more laws, but I am here to tell you that many of the laws that we all follow are not relevant to our daily lives, and that is where the problems really start to creep in. For instance, a few years ago, it was illegal to buy, sell, or use marijuana. There were cases where people were caught using marijuana by the police, and they were put in jail for years. There have also been many cases of people buying marijuana and being charged and put in jail. Now, if you are in favor of marijuana legalization or not, that is not the point here. The point is that marijuana is now legal in the state of California. That means that everyone who was previously put in jail for marijuana use is now in jail for a reason that is invalid. Did the people who are in jail for marijuana possession or use actually commit a crime if there is no law pertaining to the “crime” they committed? There is truly a disconnect between laws and our reality. RIGHT & WRONG   You might want to ask, why would a law ever be put into place that would later be changed or altered? And, if laws are based on right and wrong and what is just and unjust, then why would a law ever change? Here’s an example of what I am referring to, if it is wrong to torture a child today, then why would it be okay to torture a child tomorrow, and vice versa?   Alas, there is a reasoning behind all of this, and it is not as fair in any sense. The laws change for two reasons. The first reason is based on the lawmakers themselves. Based on what the lawmakers of the current time want and prefer, the laws will reflect those notions. This preference for certain laws over others also pertains to what politicians want and what big business owners want. Each of these group of people determine the laws for that period of time. Another reason why laws change is because laws are created and made based on what makes money and a bigger profit. In the case of marijuana legalization, there was no way to tax marijuana in the past, which is why it was illegal. Now, there are ways to tax marijuana and sell it in the marketplace, which is why you will now be seeing more and more states legalize marijuana. It’s really just as simple and clear cut as that.     The Damage Of The Criminal Justice System     Let’s change gears and discuss the mental and emotional damage of the criminal justice system. Aside from the fact that the entire system is unfair in a lot of ways, there is another side of the coin that many people fail to recognize, and that pertains to what happens to the people who have been incarcerated and then get out. Now, this is a very important topic to think about because it affects every single one of us.   With the criminal justice system working the way that it does today, it seems that more and more people are being put in jail or prison. What this means is that one day, these people will get out and be let out on the streets. Now, will these people be able to get jobs after they have been set free? And, how mentally stable are these people once they get out of jail or prison? You must remember that many of these people do not have families waiting for them once they get out, or a cushy job and warm home to go to. A lot of these people have no choice but to go straight to the streets once they are set free. They will then have to find a place to live, a job, and a support system along the way. It’s truly a struggle, to say the least.   It is said that the recidivism rate is extremely high in this country. The recidivism rate is the rate in which newly released prisoners go back to jail or prison. In all actuality, it’s no wonder that this rate is so high in this country, how is anyone supposed to get back on their feet with nothing to their name, and not even a place to call home? Something needs to change, and it needs to change fast.   FALSELY CONVICTED   There are also other factors to take into consideration within the criminal justice system, and one of these factors include people being put in jail under false pretenses, as well as people running free that committed serious crimes. The truth is that there is no question that certain juries might not convict the right person. And, if someone has enough money, they can hire a great lawyer and get a much lighter sentence than someone who is only able to afford a public defender. So, you might want to ask yourself, if someone cannot afford an amazing lawyer, should they be punished? If you think about that question for longer than two seconds, the answer is no, everyone should be treated the same, but that is unfortunately not the case with the justice system in this country. Those who are able to hire great lawyers get less time, and those who are able to come to court in a nice suit get less time, etc. The unfair discrepancies based on income and wealth go hand in hand.   THE GLORIFICATION OF CRIME   There are some people who believe the reason we have so many criminals in jail and prison at the moment is because of the glorified criminal lifestyle in this country. Everywhere you look these days, all you see is people breaking the law and being glorified for it. Whether you watch a movie, a television show, go on the internet, check social media, or read the newspaper, it seems that crime is being glorified. While this might not seem completely obvious to the naked eye, it is a fact, and it happens every single day. Take music videos for instance, the majority of music videos, especially pop, rap, and rock music videos completely and wholeheartedly glorify crime. Some of the crimes that these music videos glorify include fighting, drugs, underage drinking, and even rape and prostitution. A lot of these music videos make illegal activities look fun, interesting, and cool. And in a way, it’s no wonder why so many young people are committing crimes, they are just doing what they see on their screens.     Crimes Being Shown On Television And In Movies     Crimes being shown and glorified is true across the board. How many modern top grossing movies don’t have any violence in them? The answer is, not many. And if you don’t think that fighting glorifies crime, you are wrong. Fighting is not only illegal, but is damaging to society in a lot of ways. Fighting ruins relationships between people and breeds negativity. Moreover, there are countless highly-rated television shows focusing on murder and insanity, such as the popular television show Dexter. You also have extremely well-acclaimed shows such as Game Of Thrones constantly showing fighting, violence, murder, and even incest.   THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM IS BROKEN   When all is said and done, yes, the criminal justice system in this country is broken. There are more people in jail and in prison now than there ever were before. Not only are there people committing horrible crimes, but there are also people being released from jail and not having anywhere to go. There are laws being enforced that are not relevant to the life in which we live today, as well as dangerous criminals running free, because they have the money and resources to do so. The sad fact is that there is not much that we can do except stay especially vigilant, aware, and educated, as well as follow the laws that have been set forth, no matter how ridiculous they may seem. The more that we educate ourselves and our children to what is really going on in this country, the better off we will all be.