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On Obedience

Friends, it is time for this lawlessness to end, because it hurts you.

An American proverb, states, "Don't fight city hall." One of our poets famously stated, "I fought the law, and the law won." Our cultural wisdom is not oppressive; it teaches us how to benefit ourselves.

These two sayings continue the Western wisdom that states you must know when you are in power and when you are not. Why did our ancestors sacrifice so much to pass down this tradition to us?

  • One reason is because being lawless means you are an outlaw. Making yourself an outlaw means you are violating the rights of others, which violates the Virtue of Justice. There is nothing socially just about that.
  • The current spirit of lawlessness will hurt you and could hurt your entire life with a criminal record or a soul filled with hate and anger. This violates the Virtue of Wisdom. Harming yourself is foolishness and can become incurable stupidity. It is said, "Bitterness is a poison with which you try to hurt others by taking it yourself."
  • Abiding by laws means controlling yourself. So, being an outlaw violates the Virtue of Temperance. If you cannot control even yourself, society will understand that you are in no position to control others or public policy.
  • Even when laws  are unjust, it is not good to break the laws that are just. To live in society, we all must bear up under some injustices. To be unwilling to endure injustice in a civil way violates the Virtue of Fortitude.

What is the root cause of lawlessness?

Outlaws are ungrateful. Cicero said, "Gratitude is not only the greatest virtue, it is the mother of all others." When individuals are ungrateful for life and sustenance and a home, etc., they can develop none of the Virtues. They wear discontentment as a crown. That is what is happening in Western democracies today. One proof of this is that we see ingratitude dividing Western nations rather than binding them together in strong bonds of friendship. This is one reason the ancients warned against anything approaching a pure democracy. 

Social justice requires a strong respect for law and a culture pursuing the Virtues and an educated people that appreciate their homeland and "just and speedy" processing for outlaws. As a culture, we have agreed that social justice comes from following a written constitution, rather than by disobedience.

Friends, let's all pursue social justice. Everything else is barbaric rather than civilized.

(A related point is how Stoicism addresses how to deal honorably with injustice. We discuss this at length several places, but for this article, let it suffice for you to consider the important point that many Stoics were slaves or prisoners of war. Most famously, Epictetus was a slave and never complained about it and found happiness. Also, Vice Admiral James Stockdale was unjustly imprisoned and tortured. He emphasized how Stoicism was the best way to deal with it, for example HERE Ultimately, you must decide if you want injustice to make you bitter or better.)



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