Matthew Cohen, MSW

Matthew Cohen, MSW

Social Justice Solutions | Staff Writer
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The Rule Of Law and Interdependence

Interdependence is the most natural of laws; it exists before the written word, before a codified system of interpretations, limitations, and freedoms, that have come to be known as human law. Interdependence spans not only temporal law, but the spiritual landscape as well. It is the precondition for law, because only something that is connected can create a contract.

Law is the implicit understanding that people affect each other. In the modern world, it is forgotten that the farmer feeds , that the tailor cloths, and that the builder shelters. Currency stands between us creating a sense of entitlement, not gratefulness, for services. As a result, the law is conceptualized, including currency transactions, as if it were a contract between completely separate and autonomous entities; Obscuring the farmer, tailor and builder; ignoring what would happen if those fine professions ceased their service.

The very nature of law acknowledges a relationship between the parties. It is the law itself that creates a psuedo-seperation that gives rise to the individual. In other words, the individual emerges only after the law defines she or he so. The argument here is simple: how could a law be contracted between two completely separate parties, and more so, what need would there be for law if the parties were completely separate? Before you reply consider whether you have ever lived, or anyone you know for that matter, in a society where there was no rule of law.

For example, laws against stealing illuminate this a priori human interdepedence. On the surface, laws against stealing seem to be simple property regulations. They can be conceptualized as the protection of the rights of individual holdings against the advances of another. Here is where it gets tricky. For there to be property, there must be some connecting medium by which another can come to posses said property. If people did not share a phenomenal reality, if they were not capable of grasping what is another’s, then there could be no laws against stealing, nor laws defining property. Nor could there be a law defining what it means to be an individual, let alone the rights of one. As people are conceptually separated from the phenomenal world by the definitions of law, their individuation arises.

This long winded argument  might even be obvious to anyone who is paying attention; that’s why it is overlooked, it’s an incredibly common and mundane aspect of human life. We have  a saying for people who consider this sort of thing, we call them philosophers, we say they are too deep, or “I don’t want to think about that sort of thing”, but at some point, this inevitably occurs to most people.

The cruel joke of American Democracy is those who defend the law, and the freedoms delineated therein, are the very same people who overlook the interdependent nature of the law itself. They have to, otherwise the hypocrisy of materialism and greed would become a new albatross, worn constantly during the voyage of life. A person cannot operate with that sort of guilt. Like all mental illness, a story must be created to explain away the contradiction.

References are made to “natural selection”. The extinction of species are examined, while the homeostasis of the environment is ignored. When citing the dominance that Lion’s have over their ecosystem, and in comparing that sort of things to human reality, people forget one little detail, Lion’s do not store more than they can eat. They do not have refrigerators with hundreds of thousands of antelope in them, nor do they have currency that can be used to purchase millions more. By the limitations of the environment, and natural selection, there must be some balance which comes about precisely because a reality is being shared. If one aspect of that delicate scale is tipped, the whole system comes crashing down.

Law comes about from a quest of understanding concerned with the natural balance of this world. Morality is learning how to find that balance. It comes from examining not just the law, but the preconditions that give rise to the law. Understanding those conditions is our best shot at understanding what it means to be human, and why morality is so important.

Law is a sacred trust. Do not cite the law with a blind eye thinking that it is the law that binds us. Before the law we are already bound by the interdependent nature of reality. Our laws are an acknowledgement of this fact. The beauty of individuality within the law can only stand on the foundation of cooperation and compassion that is the precondition; namely interdependence.

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  1. michellesicignano February 11, 2013

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