Five am, I'm wide awake; I have my coffee with vanilla frothy goodness, a candle and good music. The perfect moment for blogging and I have nothing on my mind. It's unusual that I'm not consumed with some crazy something to write about... wait a minute something just occurred to me.
I have recently been looking back on my facebook notes and I realized I never got back to thinking about, or commenting on a question a friend wrote on one of my posts.
The following thought was posed by Laurie Edwards, a new/old friend from high school. Laurie wrote this in response to an essay I had written about "Sin and Sinners".
"Isn't there a point at which each of us--or each group of us--MUST legislate what we think is right, outlawing that which we believe is wrong? At what point do individual rights get outweighed by the greater general good? Yeah, I know that "slippery slope" crap has been used by too many right-wingers to inflict their morality on us, but it DOES have some merit: Where do you draw the line between your right to live your life as you see fit, and society's right to make decisions for the group?"
In an effort to clarify and bring Laurie's question into context, my notes were about "hate the sin, love the sinner" and how much I dislike this phrase. I think those who might say this have good intention but, who's to say what is a sin and who is the sinner. It often times comes across a pious and judgmental.
In our efforts to become a truly non-judgmental person or society we need to live our lives and let others live theirs; seeking to be truly happy for all. I don't claim to be perfect at this, if I were I wouldn't be judging the judgmental.
So, when does it become OK to judge right and wrong and, as a society, place laws and restriction on people's choices and actions. Big question, I'm sure there are a lot of different opinions amongst my friends who frequent my blog. Feel free to comment and share your own take on the topic.
I feel like it is my responsibility to live my life, to the best of my ability, according to the "Four Agreements" while letting others live their life from wherever they happen to be at the time. Believing we are all exactly where we are suppose to be at all times. Not believing that where I am is any better or worse than where anyone else is.
That being said, there are those who take advantage of others and hurt others. This can be on a small scale, like stealing a neighbors newspaper; or a large scale, like 9/11 or the Holocaust.
In the US we make an effort to protect individuals and society by having laws and rules put into place by people who are chosen by a majority of the group at large. This is far from a perfect system, in fact I think the system is so broken it doesn't work most of the time. I want to clarify I'm not one who thinks we don't need government, I'm more one who would like to fix government. Another topic another day.
Back to Laurie's question; if we accept that there need to be laws in order to protect individuals and society then where is the line between law and freedom of choice?
I do believe government should regulate to protect the environment from large corporations who would dump their waste into our air and water; or an insurance company who would withhold a life saving medical treatment from someone who can't afford to pay for it; or from banks who charge outlandish interest rates on credit cards to make a profit; or a pharmaceutical company who would knowingly sale a drug for the wrong reason, resulting in someones death. (I do go on and on sometimes, don't I?) I believe government should legislate to protect the constitutional rights of every citizen.
I don't believe government should be in the business of defining morality. What I mean by that is the government needs to keep their nose out of my spiritual beliefs, my family lifestyle and my sex life. Unless my spiritual beliefs, my family lifestyle or my sex life hurts another person or group of people. If my spiritual practice is to participate in human or animal sacrifice, then by all means step in. If my sex life involves raping another person or forcing someone to bend to my will, then step in.
It becomes a question of definition, with each of us defining things according to our beliefs. For example, I think Suzie and I should have the opportunity to marry and raise our family just like anyone else; I don't see how that can harm anyone. Yet someone else, perhaps even someone reading this post, might believe if Suzie and I were allowed to marry it would re-define marriage and, somehow, harm society or their family. I don't want to turn this into a discussion on gay marriage. I'm just using this in an effort to put across my point about legislating morality.
To summarize, I believe there is a place for judgment both in our own lives and in society at large. On an individual basis the trick is to make personal judgments in order to improve our own life not another person's life. On a societal basis, I think the trick is to leave God and religion out of it, and seek to protect human rights.
And, there are my thoughts for the day...