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Today the distinction between the
two categories of morality and law, have been severely blurred. People often
make the mistake of believing if they are following the laws of the land they
are also of good moral character.  Truth
of the matter, law and moral are related but in one way twins. Pollock (2017)
simplifies morals to the principles of right and wrong (p.8) But law fall in a
gray area because they are man-made and change frequently, whereas morals are deeply
embedded in our being and guide us for a lifetime. Law and moral often follow
some of the same guidelines, yet, equating what is lawful with morality is can
be dangerous to a society.  

            Although
laws are often written from moral principles, what is law and what is moral are
far not the same. There are many laws on the books that are widely condemned as
morally wrong. For example, the legal age of consent in some states is as low
as 16 years old. As a father of four children, I see this as morally wrong;
however the law allows it. Adultery is another morally wrong act that is
completely legal. There are also taboo topics such as abortion and same sex
marriage that some people may view as morally wrong but they are not against
the law.  Even the simple acts of lying
can have someone questioning you moral character, but it’s not likely to land
you in behind bar. The law sets the bar extremely low for moral behavior that
why being of strong moral character goes beyond just following the laws.

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            The
the opposite is true as well. Generally moral people are law-abiding citizens,
however, there are instances where their sense of morality will not allow them
to follow the law. There were a lot of things that were legal but not moral in
our past. The ones that stand out are the institution of slavery and Jim Crow
laws. The institution of slavery in the United States would have never been
abolished if it were not for people of strong moral character that went against
the laws of the land with the belief that a human being should not be looked at
as property.  Many years later there were
Jim Crow laws that segregated the United States and further violated the rights
of black citizens. Had it not been for the rebellion by many civil rights activists
who stood by their belief that although legal, segregation was/is immoral the
world as we know it would not exist.

Conclusion

If I had to choose
between being surrounded by law-abiding citizen or citizen of high moral
values, I would pick the moral values hands down. It is our moral values that
truly regulate our behavior. There are truly not enough law enforcement
officers to watch everyone thus laws are only as strong as the enforcement
behind them. Laws can never substitute for restraints that morality puts in our
lives. At best, the police and the criminal justice system are the last lines
of defense for a civilized society. It is very unfortunately that many moral
values have been discarded without the true understanding or appreciation for
the role they played in creating a civilized society. 

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