The Two Laws of Mankind
Updated: Feb 5, 2021
Thank you for the contribution by this Anonymous writer.
It is very obvious that we humans need laws. When we are left to the limitlessness of our desires, we become unimaginably cruel and wicked. We discover our enormous propensity for evil. It is there, within all of us. All it needs is to be unleashed.
Recall Alexandr Solzhenitsyn's famous conclusion. Having survived World War Two and
years of horrendous suffering in the Soviet gulags, he remarked: "The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either - but right through every human heart - and through all human hearts." Even the nihilist Friedrich Nietzsche found no other answer: "In the last analysis, even the best man is evil."
So, to restrict our ability to unleash the selfish evil we have inside of us, we need laws!
Of course, the human conscious can prevail at times, but, without (good) laws there are no repercussions for evil. There are no deterrents for evil. There is no social code demanding good behavior. There is a vacuum - ready for the full extent of our selfish desires to manifest.
Are you good?
But all of this sounds harsh. Are we really that bad?
It is very easy to think of oneself as "good". If someone asked you "are you good?", chances are you'd say yes. Sure, you have your bad moments, but "overall", you're a good person. You don't go around murdering and stealing, or pathologically lying, or bullying. You try your best to be a good person.
Most of us think of ourselves as good. No one ever regarded themselves as evil. Solzhenitsyn put it clearly: "It is in the nature of the human being to seek justification for his actions."
What is your justification?
If you think of yourself as a good person because you refrain from murder, stealing, pathologically lying or bullying - are you truly good?
Do you refrain from all this out of your own goodness, or because society expects this of you? Think about it.
Murder, stealing, deceiving and bullying is generally considered undesirable traits in society. People don't want to hang out with murderers, thieves, liars and bullies (unless they are so themselves). So, most people don't do these things, because most people desire to be socially accepted. To be liked by others.
So, what is really at the heart of your actions and behavior? Is it your desire to be liked and admitted as a respected member of society? Or is it a genuine love for your neighbor?
We are all social creatures. Any threat to our "likability" or social standing, and we quickly rethink our behavior. Likewise, we want good health, good wealth, and security. Any threat to either of these, and we quickly rethink our behavior.
This is the primitive instincts of mankind that steer how we make moral choices, and how a society develops. This forms the basis for two types of Laws:
The Law of Punishment
The Law of Love
The Law of Punishment
The Law of Punishment is the most basic form of law there is. Even animals understand this.
The law is negative - it instructs you on what not to do.
Its the basic "if I do X, I will be punished by Y".
Punishment is anything that limits your likability, safety or comfort. Thus, the law ensures your obedience by threatening what you want or need- if you break the law, some likability, safety or comfort is taken away from you (prison, fines, criminal records, etc).
If I murder, I may be death-sentenced. Everybody wants to live, so we don't murder.
If I steal, I go to jail. Everybody wants to live comfortably, so we don't steal.
What's crucial is that this basic type of law does not necessarily make you a "good" human being. It only restricts your desire to do evil by playing on your selfish want to save yourself from a negative outcome.
This law is selfish by nature. That's why it works so well with humans.
It compels you to act with civility not because you are a good human being, but because of your self-interest to be liked and live in comfort and security. You have your self's best interest at heart.
The Law of Love
Far beyond the Law of Punishment, there is the Law of Love.
The Law of Love is the most advanced form of Law there is. One could argue that humans don't even understand this law - but, at least, we have the ability to understand it through divine inspiration.
It is far beyond our primitive instincts. Far beyond our frame of mind. Far beyond our expectations, and judgement.
The Law of Love also address our desire to be liked, safe and comfortable - but in a radically opposite manner.
The Law of Love is the voluntary sacrifice of our likability, safety and comfort to benefit someone else. Thus, a complete frontal attack on our desires for these things.
This Law is positive, it focuses on what we ought to do.
This Law is completely selfless by nature. Our incentive is driven by our love for our neighbor, not ourselves.
In this Law, you voluntarily sacrifice your own benefits to help or comfort someone else. It is the sacrifice of one's own life for someone else - the true mark of Love.
This Law challenges us to completely contradict our primal instincts. By doing so, we transcend our primal instincts - we become a much more advanced creature. A creature capable of sacrificing one's own will in favor of someone else. We become more alike our Creator.
This is a law that professes Love equals Sacrifice. Love is not a fleeting emotion. A faint sense of admiration for someone else. Let us be warned - there is such a thing as "selfish love", which is, of course, not love at all, but pure selfishness.
There exists no selfishness in love. Love for oneself is not love. Therefore, the extent of our love is only measured by the sacrifice of our self.
The Sacrificial Love
What then, is goodness. Who then, can proclaim they are good?
17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
18 “Why do you call Me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone.
19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother."
20 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”
21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.”
22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
9 “As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you. Now remain in My love.
10 If you keep My commands, you will remain in My love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in His love.
11 I have told you this so that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.
12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.
13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
14 You are My friends if you do what I command."
How does God love us? Not by simple Love, but by Sacrificial Love. And we are made in His Image. Imitating Him is our Highest pursuit.