Friday, October 17, 2008

My "Issue" Essay, No.13

TOPIC: ISSUE17 - "There are two types of laws: just and unjust. Every individual in a society has a responsibility to obey just laws and, even more importantly, to disobey and resist unjust laws."
WORDS: 579 TIME: 00:45:00 DATE: 2008-10-17 15:31:17

In this statement, the speaker recommends that whether a citizen obeys a law depends on whether the law is justice. I admit that the initial potential of the speaker is to make our society better; however, this statement is too simple to analyze such a complex issue- one that discussing the definition of justice. I argue that we cannot simply resist laws but should find a practical method to ensure that our law is just.

To begin with, I agree with the speaker can we need just laws and the unjust ones should be abandoned. Law is the standard for people's behavior whose function is to support people's rights, to ban someone's harmful actions to others, to settle conflicts within the people. When we meet social problems, the first reaction is referring to the law, as a symbol of justice. If law itself is unjust, there could be no justice in the society. In medieval, law was made by the feudalists, who use laws, to rule their kingdom, to control their people, to extract tax. Similarly, in ancient China, emperors made, revised, and abandoned laws arbitrary to meet their needs and profits. Those laws are not just law to the common people and thus brought about chaos and revolutions. When we consider these situations, we may simply admit that we should also disobey and resist unjust laws in our society.

Nevertheless, the speaker failed to consider how to define a just law if he/she wants to use this standard to divide different laws. Unlike those kings' laws in the past, our laws are more formal and well designed, so we cannot easily distinguish an unfair law like our ancestors did. Different people tend to pursuit different profits, and their profits maybe conflict with each other. For instance, when we discussing labor law, there are two sides of people- the employees and the employers, whose interests are totally opposite. While the bosses emphasize on longer serving time of employees, lower cost of hiring, and higher business revenues, the workers may appeal for shorter working hours and higher salaries. As a result, in their views, the definition of just law is different. Similarly, individual cannot form a uniform standard to define whether a law is just or not.

Finally, I argue that a practical method should be taken to revise or abandon our laws. As no individual has right to resist laws and no government can revise laws arbitrary, a reliable law-revising mechanism of a nation is the protector of justice. Taking United States Constitution for example, the fifth of its seven original articles is "Process of Amendments", which guaranteed a reliable method to revise the Constitution and other laws. Now the Constitution has 27 amendments in all, with the last one ratified in 1992. Other countries have followed United States' example, in their constitution, the process of making, revising, abandoning a law is clearly defined. In short, we should protect the justice by obeying laws, not by resisting them.

Most people know that the justice of law has great impact on the society, and whether the law system is just can determine the future of a nation. But the speaker failed to consider that it is too difficult for ordinary people to judge a law's justice. In my view, social system and the entire society, not individual, can revise laws. For every individua, what they can do is to advocate for a change, not to resist some so-called "unjust" laws.

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