The State of the World: The Legal System by Steve Kanney

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In this blog we will take an approach that is more casual and looks to relate Aikido principles to our experience in daily life. We will start out observing the state of our world and comparing it to the principles of Aikido noting the differences. Later we will move into more practical individual problems in daily life.We will start with the legal system.

The point of the legal system is to promote the positive use of human activity. Totalitarian systems (e.g. communist) that provide unrestricted power to one ruler generally tend violate human nature. If we look at our history in the west, democracy as a form of protection for human rights began in Greek and Roman times. It was expanded in Europe after the dark ages and we added religious tolerance here in the US. So while our right to life (one named function of Aikido – see philosophy blog), liberty (another benefit of Aikido) and the pursuit of happiness (the other named function of Aikido – see philosophy blog) are clearly on track, the democratic systems may also leave some room for improvement.

Let’s step outside the box a little bit. While protecting human rights is obviously good, what about the protecting the rights of animals and the environment? Pollution in the industrialized society has been virtually unrestrained for 100 years and we are on the verge of destroying our own ability to live safely on the planet. Humans are not the only ones who suffered as a result. No one was imprisoned or penalized in any way for these transgressions against the environment.

What about animals? Obviously, we are somewhat at odds with the interests of animals in that some humans cannot survive on a vegetarian diet for health reasons. I suspect many animals may not feel our eating them conforms to their basic rights and we might have difficulty disagreeing. But if you look at the structure of farming, you will find we eat far more meat than necessary and the impact on the environment is potentially serious. Also, before we kill animals for food, our farms can be violently abusive towards them, again practically without penalty. We have animals work for us and are abusive as well.

The other point to consider is the implementation of these laws. Think about Bill Clinton’s response to the question of whether he had sex with Monica Lewinsky. Another example is a whistle blower who worked at Lehman Brothers and filed a complaint about their shady accounting practices. He was fired for his action, while the firm boldly misrepresented their financial condition, and the perpetrators of this act still were not brought to justice even after the demise of the firm. People in power, politicians and business leaders, seem to be subject to a different set of laws than the rest of society.

The purpose of the legal system is to inspire basic humanitarian values, and in our society many laws do work quite well. But to move more in alignment with Aikido principles, the laws should be applied consistently and some consideration for the rights of animals and the environment should be included as well. Next we move on to money and power…