Law and Order
What does it mean to obey the law? That depends on where you are .Different cultures have very different views of obeying the law. In some cultures, law-abiding citizens try to keep the letter of the law. That is, whatever the law says, they do. In other cultures, good citizens live by the spirit of the law. They see the law only as a general guideline. Often they obey the law only when someone official is looking. The situation in America fits into the fist category. That doesn’t mean all Americans keep the law. But American culture teaches people to respect the law----even to the smallest detail.
Driving habits illustrate American respect for the law. A driver will usually stop for a red light, even when there are no other cars around. People tread the lines marking streets and roads as definite boundaries, not just decorations. Vehicles yield to those with the right of way-particularly pedestrians. Actually, though, drivers don’t always keep traffic rules. For example, many drivers ignore freeway speed limits. But Americans generally drive with careful attention to the rule.
History gives several clues to explain American attitudes toward the law. The U.S. Constitution, the basis for all laws in America, reflects many historical influences. The Magna Carta, or “Great Charter,” was one. King John of England was forced to sign this document in 1215. It placed the king under the authority of the law. No linger was the king law; rather, the law was king. America’s Christian heritage has also shaped how people view the law. For one thing,
the Bible reveals God’s unchanging laws which people must obey. It also teaches people to respect human authority as established by God.
Of course, not everyone in America abides by the law. Crime is a growing problem. For that reason, law enforcement officials will never be out of a job. Police officers have their hands full trying to arrest lawbreakers. Detective agencies spend countless hours trying to figure out unsolved crimes. Nevertheless, most Americans still like to believe that the “long arm of the law”
will eventually nab the bad guys.
But even bad guys in America have the right to a fair trial. When a person is brought to an American court, he is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Many ancient Eastern systems, in contrast, viewed an accused person as guilty until proven innocent. They used torture and other extreme measures to find out the truth. The American system tries to protect the rights of the accused. Still, the system is far from perfect. Court cases involving celebrities like O. J. Simpson can become media circuses. Skilled lawyers sometimes use minor issues to get their clients set free. And prison inmates may live even better than many poor citizens.
No one believes a perfect legal system is possible. Yet every society has laws. Whether people follow the letter of the law or just the spirit of the law, they recognize the need for laws to keep order in society. Without them, chaos would result. If every man were a law unto himself, no man would be free.
Copy from English learning