Tag Archives: Thomas Aquinas

Mandatory terms

"The Golden Rule" mosaic

“The Golden Rule” mosaic (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was thinking about the concept of fines and penalties that we get often for breaching the law. Besides being a great revenue stream I often wonder about what it means in relation to free will and even in relation to whether or not these are in fact lawful.

There’s a few ideas on law that’s important here. We’ve got laws that govern the universe, laws that are integrated with all of creation and whether you acknowledge the existence of God or not, they work irrespective – laws of gravity, law of cause and effect for example. These are Divine laws.

Then we’ve got laws related to ethics and many of these laws are recognised in the laws of man based on laws being impartial and without prejudice – i.e. applicable to all. These laws are grounded on the principle of the golden rule, the rule of law that Jesus spoke of when he said that we should do unto others only what we’d want others to do unto us.

In other words this would mean that such laws if they are ethical laws have to be applicable to all. When we have laws that apply to one group and don’t apply to others, there’s little of the golden rule in that. Much of this is covered in what’s called common law or natural law. Natural law deals with laws of doing no harm to others as a consistent rule of law. Of course if we don’t want harm done to us (no one really wants that), then we would not harm others if our actions are lawful. In other words we act lawfully (under natural law) when our actions are governed by the golden rule. If we don’t follow the golden rule we can say there is no rule of law. So the question remains, are we governed by the rule of law?

An easy way to look at harm is when we overstep the free will of others. So a simple definition of harm is breaking another’s free will. Given we have the ability to make conscious free will choices and that this is a pre-existing part of how we have been created, we could even make a reasonable guess that there would have to be many divine laws in effect that cover what happens when we overstep the free will of others. So we could say that overstepping the freewill of others is not only breaching natural law and ethics but divine law also.

Many of the laws we follow (or not) in our day to day lives base their validity on statutes. Statutes are made in legislation by our governing bodies – for instance in parliament, Australian government statutes are decided on. When we consider the ideas posed about natural and divine laws, the basis of statues comes into question. Specifically what is referred to in law as affirmative statutes:


Affirmative statutes rely on there being mandatory terms. The legal definition of “term” related to statutes gives us a lot of insight into whether or not such terms are lawfully valid:

Term (Provision), noun agreement, arrangement, artiile of agreement, bargain, clause, condicio, condition, covenant, item, lex, limitation, particular, point, proviso, qualification, specification, stipulation, understanding

So it would seem that for a term to take effect when  involves two or more people, it needs to have some form of agreement in place. If there is no agreement, there’s not validity of such terms. Given that, we’d want to question whether the concept of “mandatory terms” make sense or is even valid in law? By this definition it seems that “mandatory terms” are contradictory considering that terms between two or more people are only applicable when an agreement on them exists. If there’s no agreement, the term is not really a term but more a policy or procedure of one person (or party) and nothing more.

A good example of how this would work is to consider our dealings with each other.

Lets say I have my own terms that I stick to regarding others having a conversation with me. My terms might include that if people interrupt me consistently in conversation and continue to do so regardless of my requests for them not to, I will end the conversation and walk away. That’s OK in principle even if the other person doesn’t know or even agrees to my terms beforehand. If I choose to no longer engage in one of these conversations, me walking away is an action I take, it’s not an action I need to enforce on  the other person. So this term of mine still meets natural law, the golden rule, and by not overstepping free will, divine law also.

If however I include in my terms an action by another person who hasn’t agreed to my terms – that’s when I’m really acting in breech of all these laws. Such an action might be that people have to apologise for interrupting me and if they don’t, that I will enforce an apology on them by intimidation. While I do something like this, I’m not attempting to settle some prior agreement (as there is none), I’m not respecting another’s free will and I’m not aligning my actions to the golden rule, natural law or divine law. For these reasons it’s clear that I’m in breach of the basic principles such laws. What I’m doing basically constitutes harassment and is the opposite of a loving use of my will.

So getting back to affirmative terms made in statutes and legislation. According to what was said above, every term that requires an action by us in such statutes that we have not agreed to, cannot be be valid. Not only are they not valid, if there’s any type of enforcement using threat and intimidation, such actions are unlawful on all counts and are among other things, a form of harassment.

So what of the fines one gets for not voting for example? When we register to vote, did we agree to any terms regarding the penalties for not voting? Did we agree to the statutes and acts of parliament that mandates that we must register to vote or be penalised? Do enforcement notices that threaten that if people do not pay for such penalties, that they will have to pay more penalties and front a court and cover legal expenses, align with the law as we have covered? It’s clear for me this is not the case.

The thing that is interesting is there’s millions or billions of cases of harassment and embezzlement with fines and penalties evidenced and documented all over the place.

On that, you might find this interesting: