When people talk about authority they refer to the justification and right to exert power over other people to achieve a purpose. Usually that purpose is to apply rules to everyone and to make sure people who do not follow the rules are punished accordingly. The question is, what gives them the right to govern others, what gives them the power to dictate laws and why do we follow them when we have our own free will.
The answers are simple, we obey the laws because most laws are just common sense and require us to treat people the way we would like to be treated. Such as the law not to steal as we would not have others take from us – common sense. It is important to obey the laws as otherwise we would be unable to live in a peaceful community where everyone was looting, murdering and disrespecting each other so the laws are in place to make sure that we treat each other with respect, therefore lessening the chance of people revolting and causing havoc. Also, you should obey the law as this shows that you have a sense of rationality and that you like to have order in your life.
On the other hand, some laws may not be applicable when it comes to this period in time as they might have been commissioned many centuries ago and this means that they maybe should not be applied in life today. Moreover, some laws are just plain wrong and are made to be broken – such as, when upholding a law overrides basic human values, then in this certain situation you may be justified to break the law.
This was exposed by a recent tragic case which gripped the nation – young boy drowned in the presence of two community officers, who stood helplessly watching him flounder as it was outside the bounds of their police duty and their training to rescue him; instead they just called the regular officers who were trained rather that jumping in (breaking the law) and saving the boy as they weren’t insured for this. In this case it was morally wrong for them to just stand around watching even though the law was against it they should have done everything humanely possible to save the child instead of getting ridiculed for not helping in everyway that they could.
Sometimes the laws themselves can be wrong which makes it hard for people to be able to follow them…Sometimes there is no way round a law that you do not agree with and the only thing viable for you to do is just leave the country.
Such as in China where the one child policy stands which many people are against as it provokes abortion – which is against many people’s religions and moral beliefs. This means that lots of people try and break the law and have two children, and if they are successful in doing this then they get ostracized by their community and do not receive any benefits from the government – they end up making their life a living hell for themselves and getting depressed because they trid to go against the law, in this case they should have left.
Still, this does not mean that you should disobey the law because you feel that it is unfair as this will just get you into trouble and won’t help. Instead you should try and protest peacefully against the law and try (using peaceful means like Martin Luther King Jr.) to make people understand how you feel about the law and to raise awareness. This way you can make others understand that you do not agree with the law so that they may change it, otherwise there is no hope and you should just leave before you end up breaking the law and regretting it.
When people break the laws they become offenders and should be punished suitably by the authority; this sparks the debate about which punishment is suitable for which crime. I believe that a first time offender should be told that their actions are wrong and that they should be given community service so that they are forced to give back something to the community rather than repeatedly taking.
Furthermore, if they repeat the offence or are charged with something else then they should most defiantly be punished more severely as they realised what they were doing was wrong but they did it anyway; or they seem to be in trouble then they should be given counselling and made to work out their problems to make sure that they do not repeat the offence again – basically they should be given help.
In contrast, some people believe that offenders should be punished severely the first time to make sure that they do not re-offend. If they show no remorse for their actions or any liability or guilt then that means that there is something wrong and that they should be made to understand that their actions were wrong – they need to be punished severely if they do not own up to their guilt even though the evidence outweighs it.
Capital punishment is when the offender is killed by hanging or electrocution etc. this is usually applied when the offender has taken someone’s life, as a consequence of their actions their own life is taken away from them; capital punishment has sparked many debates all over the world especially from human rights activists who believe that people have no right to play God upon other people’s lives. Whereas others feel that “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” applies here, and that those who feel justified to take another life should have their own brutally taken away from them as a consequence.
Still, many retaliate, saying that “an eye for an eye will leave the whole world blind” and that killing someone because they took another life makes you just as bad as that person if not worse. Furthermore, there is a large amount of room for error, and if you get it wrong and sentence an innocent person then you will have that on you for the rest of your life as you killed someone who had done no wrong and that would be unjust.
Also, there is nothing you can do to compensate a life when you have taken the wrong man’s, it is something that cannot be paid off with money or justified by taking another life so it is unforgivable.
Besides, if you take the life of a killer then I feel that this is presenting them with an easy way out and that then they can never fully repay for the damage they caused. I think that if you give them a life’s sentence then this is far worse, especially solitary confinement. This means that they will be able to muse over what they have done and be able to process their thoughts, it is much harder to live your life in prison than to die straight off so that is why I believe that capital punishment is wrong.
Furthermore, I believe that no one ever has the right to play God and take the life of someone else, regardless of what they have done – maybe this is just my religious belief but I feel that if God wants them dead he will take their life himself rather than us mere humans doing it as we might get it wrong.
My mother thinks that, instead of actually killing first degree murderers or locking them in prison to drain the state’s resources, we should just abandon them on a deserted island somewhere and if they survive then they survive – if not, then they are no longer a burden to society. She feels that this is not a controversial idea as we are leaving them on God’s earth for God to do what God sees fit for that person.
Personally, I disagree with many laws such as ones I have already mentioned (the one fact that some police officers have to stand around watching helplessly because they have no power to help a child drowning). When I asked my friend about this she said that she thought that people should be allowed to walk around in their underwear as a freedom of expression. She justified this by saying that – if this was allowed then children wouldn’t have to be taught about changes in their bodies as they would be witnessing it everywhere and they shouldn’t be scared because it’s only natural.
Also, she thought that if a woman kills her husband after he has admitted to having and affair then she should be acquitted as it is a crime of passion and is not her fault as all men are immature cads who are not worthy of our love and attention.
Furthermore I believe strongly that we should be allowed to wear whatever makeup we desire and jewellery (within reason), as this is a freedom of choice and expression. It is unfair, I feel, that we aren’t even allowed to wear crosses as a sign of religion and as a part of many peoples’ religion yet the Muslims are allowed to wear headscarves as a sign of their religion.
Moreover, one of my older friends had the view that TV licences should be scrapped as most people pay Sky for their television so they shouldn’t have to pay the BBC too. The BBC should just advertise like all other channels.
Lastly, he feels that it is wrong that a person who steals gets an eight year sentence whereas one who rapes only gets three…This is unjust.
Therefore, I come to the conclusion that authority is not always right in the way that it governs people and that sometimes the rules can be wrong and unjust and it is up for the people of the state to prove this…after all, the rules are there for us and our protection and so if they are wrong and the majority thinks that they are wrong then they cannot be protecting us and therefore have to be changed.
My overview of authority is that it is doing a great job considering the circumstances and the fact that it is so hard to be just when you have to impose rules upon other people.