We all inherently know right from wrong. We just have this overwhelming tendency to disregard morality when it conflicts with our desire for pleasure or personal gain. Sure, you might justify having an affair, but you certainly wouldn't condone your spouse cheating on you. And you might justify taking some office supplies at work, but if you were the one being robbed you wouldn't think it was OK.
Think about it… There isn't a person alive today who would come home from work to discover that their house has been robbed and say, "Oh, how wonderful that this burglar is able to enjoy all of my things without my permission. And who am I to impose my view of right and wrong on this poor burglar?"
Here's a good way to determine right from wrong: turn the situation around on yourself. Jesus said it best: "Treat people the same way you want them to treat you." Simply, we all know that murder, rape, torture, child abuse, theft, lying, fraud, graft, torture, cheating, and other injustices are absolutely wrong because we wouldn't want any of these things to happen to us!
Everyone has a God-given conscience. Not everyone acknowledges it, but everyone has a one. The human tendency to justify ourselves is evidence of a healthy conscience. We know that wrong is bad, so we want it to be right. If there was no such thing as right and wrong, we wouldn't have the capacity to weigh actions on the scales of justice. Yet we obviously have that ability, because we feel the need to justify ourselves.
Isn't this the universal basis for all law? What is justice without notions of right and wrong? How can we have an insanity defense, if we don't have sanity as a shared standard?
With that as a preamble, here are some legislative responses to the institutionalized, ethical failures of the last decade:
- Federal Sentencing Guidelines
- A Growing Web of Statutes
"To sin by silence
when they should protest
makes cowards of men."