Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Mystic Lawyers

It’s not possible to turn on a television or computer anymore without learning that someone meant to construct or enforce laws – be they from man or faith – has broken them. It’s an example of greed, usually; other times the corruption of the soul by power. The victim feels abused, belittled, and perhaps eternally vulnerable. There’s also a sense of betrayal, knowledge that one's fellow man is able and willing to hurt another, sometimes for as little reason as feeling superior for a few scant moments.

For the rest of us, we see just how much laws protect us. Our laws define our society, give checks and balances to those in power, and are only as strong as the determination of those who enforce them. Otherwise, they’re worth less than the paper they’re written on. Every time an official breaks the law, we’re reminded of how much protection a sheet of parchment provides from attack.

Yet The Law holds power. The Law breaks the wicked and ruins their empires. The Law shields the innocent and empowers the just. And yet it seems like more and more, all the law does is give a name for the ways people screw each other over.

If that weren’t the case, what would happen? Would someone that stole from another find their own property missing? Could someone abuse their child only to discover their own body broken? It sounds great at first, but when one follows that line of thought more, it gets muddier. Crossing the street in the middle of the block to catch up with your runaway dog? Forget it. Skip turning in that rental DVD by one day? Maybe you’ll be just as late to that interview for your dream job. Sure, a lot of criminal activity and malicious behavior goes missing, but so does free will.

So there needs to be a happy medium. A force that will respond whenever called to whoever calls it, under any circumstances. Something beyond interference, that doesn’t pay heed to gender, race, social status, age. At the same time, it would need to be completely reactive. It could be aware of what a person is doing, but unless someone directly requests action be taken (and specifies what actions need to be taken), our hypothetical Law would do nothing. The onus would be on everyone tied to this Law to know when the Law needs to be involved, how to involve it, and be responsible for the consequences. This Law is not justice in and of itself, but it is a set of tools that anyone should be able to use to make sure people behave in a way that everyone can tolerate.

This “happy medium” Law is an idea millennia old, further away than a matter transporter yet something kept very close. Harry Potter learned exactly what such Law could give people, and watched others use this Law to take as much away from those he cared for. Gandalf gave his life to enforce the Law, and the Law gave it back to him to bring those who had abused it down. Merlin tried to teach his Laws to his fellow men, and though they could not use it like him, he taught them to enforce its spirit. This Law isn’t beyond abuse, it’s simply beyond corruption. Those who would twist it to their own ends cannot bend or rewrite it, nor can they block anyone else from using it themselves. It would not stop bad things from happening, but it is a source of power independent of physical strength or material wealth and influence.

It has given life to an entire genre of fiction, one that has grown along with societies, mirroring the complexity of their laws with its own.

Rules with the power to enforce themselves, that leave it to the people to say when they’re enforced. That sounds Magical to me.

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