The Law and Morality

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Laws protect citizens from themselves but it also protects them from any abuse of power at a local or national level. Laws are important aspects of life that guide the governance of many societies. It is supposed to help build society while promoting unity among those that are under it. In some societies, there are some people who willingly do not agree with specific laws such as marijuana legalization because this implies bad conduct, especially for the youth and citizens. This reminds me of Civil Disobedience written by David Thoreau as he explains that the government passing laws whose moral standing is questionable and laws that are unjust do not promote equality among the people. The state of California is an example of a state wherein the federal government declared a law that went against moral standards. Close to twenty years ago, the state of California became the first state to legalize the sale of medical marijuana, which opened up the market to more immorality by making way for the growth of the black market (Mcgreevy 2019).

In many cases, the government argues that the laws they pass are for the economic good and the growth in the future of society. This may be a way to get as many people to support the laws sometimes people do not care about the effect of unjust laws. Many citizens find themselves conflicted between following the laws and staying true to what they believe, even if it means breaking the law. Despite the nature of the law that has been passed, citizens should not blindly submit to any law especially if it goes against their moral standing.

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According to Civil Disobedience written by David Thoreau, the government does not support the progress of the people in any way, economically, socially and even physically bypassing immoral and unjust laws which may lead them to disobey such inequality orders. By legalizing the use of medical marijuana, the state of California gave room for the black market to grow and thrive (Mcgreevy 2019). Many growers and retailers of medical marijuana have been suffering due to the increased taxes that were part of the legalization. The growing of medical marijuana is expensive, and the taxes required to run a licensed marijuana shop are too high. The majority of retailers choose the black market where they can sell illicit marijuana and make profits without paying taxes. By simply legalizing the use of marijuana, the state of California has made many of its citizens full of greed. Many of the marijuana growers prefer to make a huge profit from their products instead of paying taxes. The desire for a higher amount of money has caused many to get into the black market, selling below standard substances at a higher price and making more profit (Mcgreevy 2019). In many societies, according to the book of Moses, The Torah, is used as a guide for moral values and justice. Commonly known as the commandments, which guide against the greed of whatever manner, even if it is part of the law. It also warns against stealing, in this case stealing from the government in the form of tax evasion (Exodus 20:2). Both of which go against moral values.

When a government passes laws that are conflicting with the moral standing of a person, it is right not to follow the law and make morally sound decisions (Thoreau 73). With the legalization of marijuana in California, there was a 23% growth rate in the economy (Mcgreevy 2019), which is an impressive growth. However, the effects of marijuana on the health of people cannot be ignored. Citizens who live in the state of California agree not to follow the laws on marijuana since doing it is against their values. They practice what is known as Civil Disobedience. According to Henry D. Thoreau, Civil disobedience is described as “the active refusal of a citizen to obey certain laws by the government because they do not morally agree with them or their conscience ” (Thoreau). Using Thoreau’s description, citizens who do not agree with the legalization of marijuana are free to exercise their moral standards. Despite being governed by the law, people are not slaves of the law. The teaching of the Torah warns against blindly submitting to laws without questioning their moral standing, these laws were delivered in the form of a speech by Moses in Deuteronomy chapter one through thirty. The law keeps changing depending on the government in place at the given time. Citizens who blindly follow the law instead of questioning their moral standards may find themselves torn between two sides when the laws keep changing.

The Torah of Moses as a moral guide gives a clear guideline of how society should act towards laws that are unjust and discriminatory. In the Book of Exodus, the Israelites were given laws on how they should treat those who abuse them which are the Egyptians. It simply makes the people obey the laws without question despite the inhumane nature of it. The leader of the Israelites, Moses, exercised civil disobedience written by Thoreau by going against the law and seeking freedom for the Israelites. The society should be developed on unjust laws and should speak up against them. Remaining silent about unjust laws and willingly believing in them only shows that one is in support of the law despite how abusive they are. It is right to decline executing laws that are oppressive rightfully, but it is also wise to speak up against such laws and strive for equality for all.

In many families, children follow laws and moral guidance that their parents agree to since they do not have an opinion of their own. As children grow up, their interaction with the world plays a role in the laws and morality that they choose to follow and the reasons for doing so. The socialization of many young people in modern society has affected how they view the law and the decisions they make regarding the law. Many young people, in modern-day society, are leaving their parents' homes earlier than they did and they are getting married at a much older age (Waite 1986). Without the guidance of their parents, young people are exploring what they think morality means for them. The time that young people spend away from their parents helps to improve their individualism, self-sufficiency, and change in attitude about family especially when it comes to sex roles in a family set-up. The individualism that young people experience allows them to explore more about themselves and those in their surroundings. The traditional sex roles do not seem very appealing to young people, especially those in non-family living.

Morality can be taught, learned and acquired as it is naturally born. According to research conducted in two universities among young men and women, they test their hypothesis that nonliving families by young adults change their attitudes, value plan, and expectations that move them away from their belief in traditional sex roles (Waite 1986). From the research, it was discovered that the effect was true among young women and not so much in young men. When young adults move from their parent’s homes, they are faced with life decisions that they have to make on their own. The decisions lead them to question what they had considered morally right as they grew up and what they are currently facing. It is at this point that young adults learn new values and morals that help them decide for their life. Many young adults consider traditional sex roles abusive, especially to women. They also know that the values they have been taught and the standards of morality state that a man should be with a woman. For young female adults to take charge, not only of their lives but even of their sexual roles, they turn to homosexuality, which gives them room to take charge. Many young people also find it fashionable to be homosexual simply because others of their age seem comfortable doing it.

The idea of homosexuality makes us aware of our minds before it is executed. Due to the reasons, Waite concludes that homosexuality is a behavior that can be learned and not necessarily in-born. Morality, unlike what we may choose to believe, is not an inborn trait but can be learned as one grows. The standards of morality are not permanent but temporary, and they could change depending on the individual and the environment they are at. Morality is also dependent on one’s ability to make sound judgment even during peer pressure and decisions that they can comfortably live by despite what many may think. That is to say that the standards of morality change from one person to another, and there is not just one correct moral standing, which means that the laws that are considered morally wrong or unjust could stand as morally correct among another group of people (Thoreau).

In response to the criticism of the eight clergymen, Martin Luther King's letter from Birmingham Jail was written. The famous letter addresses the problem affecting America's current problems, and much more importantly Birmingham in 1963. His fame, however, lies primarily in King's explanation of why he acts to nonviolent action. Part of the letter contains his interpretation of rules that are just and unjust laws. Although King's statements were made almost 50 years ago, the value of distinguishing these two types of laws is still relevant in modern issues, especially with the particularly relevant problem issue of same-sex marriage.

First of all, it is important to remember that Martin Luther King was not in favor of disregarding all laws. Rather, he points out that there are different kinds of laws to be followed or not to be followed. King said, “An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is, in reality, expressing the highest respect for the law” (King 155). Here in which King says as long as disobedience is done with the right belief and just cause, it will be more morally right than to follow an unjust law. More importantly in search of a greater good for society rather than for a single, personal reason, civil disobedience must be done. Since it is the unjust laws that caused the civil upheaval, the distinctive factors of what makes a law unjust are more important to remember. The LGBTQ community has always received backlash from our society because they deviate from the norm. What people do not see is that they are just trying to live their life as a human being, having no intention to be constantly reminded that what they are is a mistake. Love is for everyone and it should not be held back because of a person’s preference. Same-sex marriage should be legalized in the entire world because all people deserve to love freely regardless of their gender and sexuality.

The standards of morality may not be the same to all simply because of the difference in the school of thought concerning certain issues. However, the basics of morality, which are to promote life and the general well-being of the people, should be believed in. Morality seeks to bring out the best in every member of the society and unites each other. However, despite the difference in the standards of morality, the laws of the land should not be unjust. Citizens should not be told to follow rules blindly, even when they disagree with the moral standing of the laws. Everyone needs the freedom to express their beliefs, even if it differs from the law.

Works Cited

  1. MCGREEVY, PATRICK. 'California Now Has the Biggest Legal Marijuana Market in The World. It’s Black Market Is Even Bigger.' Los Angeles Times, 2019.
  2. 'Letter From A Birmingham Jail [King, Jr.].' Africa.upenn.edu. N.p., 2019. Web. 29 Nov. 2019.
  3. Waite, Linda J., et al. “Nonfamily Living and the Erosion of Traditional Family Orientations Among Young Adults.” American Sociological Review, vol. 51, no. 4, 1986, pp. 541–554. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/2095586.
  4. Thoreau, Henry. On The Duty Of Civil Disobedience. 1st ed. Elegant Ebooks, 1817. Web. 29 Nov. 2019.
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