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Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Ethics and Morals Vs Law

 I have always thought (and therefore wrote) that in our current stage in human civilization, legality has become more important than morality and ethics.  That is what Alexander  Solzhenitzyn meant when he said: “I have spent all my life under a communist regime, and I will tell you that a society without any objective legal scale is a terrible one indeed. But a society with no other scale but the legal one is not quite worthy of man either”. This must change for civilization to flourish and create a compassionate society for all.

Let me explain. If individuals and organizations can act in immoral and unethical ways, and get away without any consequence, by winning court battles on legal points, the civilization cannot consider itself advanced.

A gambling organization cannot escape its moral obligation to the society just by inserting a disclaimer which says: “if you have gambling problems, call this number”!

Look at two other examples: the battle about the Affordable Care Act and the controversies about gun violence.

Reality is that insurance companies never covered preventive measures such as vaccinations or cancer screening. This despite clear evidence that these preventive strategies add “suffering-free” life for everyone (irrespective of their political views) and saves money for these insurance companies in the long term. Morality, ethics, and common sense tell us that it is wise to make these expenses paid for by insurance companies or by the government for everyone including, and particularly the poor.

Instead, what do we do? We go off the subject entirely, and quibble about “legality” of the “right to choose” or “freedom of conscience” and even more cruel idea of “if you need, you pay for it”! Then, there are those who refuse immunizations on the legal principle of “autonomy” and forget their ethical responsibility to their community.

Take the gun control issue. The legality argument on the  “right” to own firearms is held sacrosanct despite all accumulated evidence over centuries to the damage guns have done to individuals, society and to entire civilizations. How can this “right” be equivalent to the “right” for everyone else, specifically the innocent ones to live?

 We need law and order for certain. But if an act is clearly immoral or unethical, there should be some consequence to those who committed that act even if they are not held legally responsible. We cannot let legality take precedence over morals and ethics. 

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