The ascendancy of the lawyer, banker and political professions are as sure a sign of any that our society is becoming less free and more tyrannical. In many ways, these professions have replaced scribes and Pharisees as the money changers in our temples. Just as the scribes and Pharisees interposed themselves between the average believer and God, so lawyers, bankers and politician have interposed themselves between the citizen and the society. However, when we as individuals begin open our hearts to each other and rekindle moral excellence as the primary social currency, the need for oppressive laws and taxation lessens. Not to mention the deadening impact lawyers and so many laws have on the cultivation of virtues in the first place. It’s to the point where we’ve stopped talking about what’s right and wrong and more about what’s legal or illegal – what one can successfully get away with, instead of what one should do. What’s right or wrong hinges more on recent case law – whether Napster or the recording industry won, for example. When trying to determine whether a course of action is good for the soul or the community of which we’re a part, it’s more “What did the Supreme Court recently say?” than “What would Jesus do?”
Certainly the rule of law is a pillar upon which a functional society is upheld, but you can have too much of a good thing to the exclusion of other goods. In order to return to the time when virtue was the family’s and society’s focus – in its homes, churches, and schools – a lot more has to be done than simplifying our laws, but it’s certainly one thing we can do.
Thomas Paine, the great American freedom fighter, echoed the common sentiment among Americans that government is a necessary evil in a society of free men. It is a device that must be used sparingly and eyed with suspicion, for it’s tendency is to accumulate in the name of protection, what truly belongs to a just and good people.