Of Laws and Men

February 3, 2004

We are a society governed by laws.  We have laws to protect life and property and to make rules for the way our society works.  Were there no laws, there would be nothing to stop a man from injuring someone weaker than himself or stealing from others.  Laws are essential for the functioning of civilized society.

There are many kinds of laws.  For example, there are laws of nature, those which are a description of the way the natural world works.  The laws of nature tell us that predator animals like lions will kill and eat prey animals like wildebeests and antelopes, not because they are vicious but that is nature's way of sustaining her creatures.

There are the laws of men which govern our relationships and the manner in which we deal with and treat our fellow man.  Break these laws and society will impose a penalty, financial or otherwise.  But laws of men can often be subjective.  You can follow the letter of the law and remain above it, but in doing so you can violate the spirit [intent] of the law.  A man who takes a charitable deduction on his income tax for items donated to a charity is following the letter of the law.  But if he over inflates the value of the gift, he is in violation of the spirit of the law.

But what of the Scout Law?  The twelve points of the Scout Law are prescription for a good character.  In it's way, the Scout law is just as important as the laws Congress passes; the man who follows the Scout Law will be the best kind of citizen.  That kind of citizen will do his best to obey not only the Scout Law but also the laws of his community, state, and nation, in both letter and spirit.

As you travel home this evening, ask yourself, "Which kind of man will I be?"

Good night, gentlemen.