If you are the majority of us, you’d find that law and order suits our needs very well. We can go about our daily business without worrying about whether we’re going to get mugged or shot at as we’re crossing the street.
But, looked at from the mugger’s point-of-view, it is a whole different story. What if we were inherently born to be bad?
A sense of identity
We are not born equal. If you believe in fate, some of us will be born to be doctors, lawyers, welfare workers; then there’ll be those of use who’ll be executives, managers, sales-people; and then there are those of us who find a calling to go into a life of crime.
The character outlines I have just mentioned represent people like me and you. Ordinary people who have had identities chosen by fate — they were born to be doctors or murderers.
Perhaps though, you don’t believe in fate, but believe more in cause-and-effect — those who study get better jobs, those who don’t will have to make do with less.
Identity calls for a life of crime
An identity is very much a part of a person. Without an identity, a person cannot be distinguished from anyone else — everyone would be the same.
You would have no “mother” or “father”; they would be “people”, like you. You would be part of “people” too. No one can be distinguished from anyone else.
So if an identity is a defining thing for a person, without which everyone would be the same, what if a person had an identity that called for him to go into a life of crime? This person grew up wanting to be a good, law-abiding citizen, but like an artist who finds no pleasure in life except in his art, this person finds life meaningless unless he turns to crime — it is his art, his life.
Does law and order help?
How does law and order help this person, this criminal? Law and order effectively tries to constrain his identity, to make him into something he is not; it forces him to be a law-abiding citizen. You remove his identity, you remove everything that he is. Without an identity, can one truly find any meaning or purpose in life? So law and order forces upon him a meaningless life.
Although very much the minority, such people do exist. People who are forced to conform because society has erected certain laws, certain standards by which everyone has to follow — “all for the greater good”, whatever that means. These laws are celebrated by most, but but not everyone. Those who do not fall into the category “most” will have to live by another man’s rules.
For those who frown upon it, what hope do they have of changing these rules, these standards? Law and order was created in the hope of ensuring free will by creating an environment where people feel safe enough to do what they want, but ironically squashes the free will of the minority.
Strong sense of morality
For these laws to be put in place, one has to have a strong sense of morality, of right and wrong. One has to know exactly what can be condoned, and what cannot — but yet it is these very things that are so subjective.
Devout Catholics will say that everyone has to believe in and worship the Virgin Mary. Orthodox Christians will refute that, saying Mary isn’t as important as Catholics point her out to be. Buddhists will claim there is no such thing as God in the first place, while accepting that different religions have different views. Then atheists will come along and say there is no God, and that we should separate state from religion.
And the criminal-minded will say to hell with morality, and shoot down all the arguments on morality, together with the arguers, because “that’s what we criminals do”.
The thing is, there is no such thing as proper/absolute laws or rules. Many of us might agree on certain things, like “killing another man for no reason” is bad. But there’ll be some of us who say “reasons are relative. To others perhaps there was no reason, but to the murderer the reasons were more than valid, even if the reason was “for fun”.
Law and order was one of the reasons the theory of relativity was frowned upon, and listed as a “dangerous idea”, in politics and in religion.
Because without a set of universal truths, laws cannot be set, be they “there is a God and thus everyone should believe in him or be condemned”, or “smoking helps relieve stress and thus should not have too many restrictions”.
So, why is order good?
So that brings me back to “why is order good”? If order is found to be “good”, it’s usually because the majority think so. But if it’s good because the majority think so, is everything the majority thinks “good”?