Lesson of the Week
Legally Fit: I obey the law
The sign was broken and the drivers stopped. They knew upside down, backwards, or fallen, this stop was important to reaching their destination. Likewise, law is essential to the success of your mission.
Not all law is as simple as traffic regulations. Government, religion, business, culture, family, and individuals all have their own laws and rules. Some are contrary to each other or outdated. How will you know what law or rule to follow? The answer is to partner law or rules with compassion, obey them, or change them. Here are some examples.
Mission: A daughter wanted to be at her dying mother’s side. The nurse burst in and said, “Time to leave. Visiting hours are over.” The daughter left the hospital room. She wept past the nurse’s station. She wept in the elevator. She wept at the hospital door where she ran into the doctor. The doctor heard the story. He said, “Go back to the room and if you have any problems, refer the nurses to me. Some rules were made to be broken.” Soon after, the mother passed away and her daughter was by her side. Mission accomplished by finding a higher law.
Mission: Stop a suicide. The hospital doors opened and there was a young refugee in the arms of her boyfriend. Later, the parents admitted their daughter was instructed to kill herself, an “honor suicide” sanctioned by the whole family. The daughter was intimate with this boy from another culture, and had become pregnant. The parents and daughter agreed she should die to save face. The method: drug overdose. The counselor’s job was to stop the suicide. The family’s job was to complete the suicide. The counselor discussed the contradiction of cultural laws and rules between the family’s old country and the new one. After a lot of discussion, the parents admitted they escaped war to come to this new country and had expected to change. They learned that the daughter would not be shunned in the new culture. They accepted her boyfriend and pregnancy. The daughter married, had a healthy baby, and all adopted the new cultural rules against suicide. Mission accomplished by education, acceptance, and obedience to new cultural laws.
Mission: Parents wanted to adopt a baby. A court appointed attorney did not like the circumstances of the adoption and made up a story that the baby may have been “bought”. The adoptive family was brought before the judge and it was assumed that the baby would be taken from the home. The attorney started asking some questions that led the parents to believe the issue wasn’t about adoption illegalities, but attorney prejudice. The parents stood up for their right to adopt even though the attorney had issues with race and religion. The mission was accomplished by following adoption, religious and ethnic freedom laws.
Other missions have relied on law as their guiding freedom and safety to success: Robert Kearns battled Ford and got credit for the intermittent windshield wiper; Lech Walesa used activism which resulted in semi-free parliamentary elections in Poland; Lilly Ledbetter fought for the Fair Play Act supporting the rights of equal pay for equal work; the Nuremberg trials brought war criminals to justice; Jane Goodall protects chimpanzees; Susan B. Anthony helped to secure women’s right to vote; Clara Barton organized the American Red Cross; George Washington Carver developed techniques of crop rotation, uses for peanuts, and found happiness and honor being helpful to the world.
Your mission will be accomplished when obedience to the law partners with compassion.
“The law, which restrains a man from doing mischief to his fellow citizens, though it diminishes the natural, increases the civil liberty of mankind.
- William Blackstone, Judge, Professor of English Law
Activity: A Moment With The Law
Materials: Paper and pencil or pen.
Time: Ten minutes writing and ten minutes discussing each person’s answer.
1. Think of the many laws you obey. What two do you like the most? Write them down on a piece of paper.
2. Describe why you chose these laws and what might happen if they were not laws.
3. Think of the laws that you do not like. Write two of them down on a piece of paper.
4. Describe why you do not like these laws and what might be done to change these laws. What might occur if these laws are changed?
5. Discuss your answers with the group or with a friend or family member.
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