From a Creighton Student's Perspective
February 27th, 2008
Senior, Theology Major (Pre-Med)
I have a hard time with laws and rules. I know they’re usually meant to protect people, but I need to know the purpose behind them before I can truly follow them. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t go around running red lights or evading my taxes. But regarding the more complicated laws, who do they help? Why are they there? Why does the Farm Bill work the way it does? Who writes our laws on immigration? What role do lobbyists play in bills regarding issues like health care and foreign trade policies? Blame it on my Jesuit education, but I’m going to ask deeper questions; I don’t want to follow something just because someone tells me to.
These thoughts came to mind when I first read the readings. Moses is a respected prophet leading the people of Israel around the desert, but just because Moses tells me to do something, doesn’t mean I’m not going to question the underlying motivations. In the first reading, Moses tells the people of Israel to continue to obey and follow the laws of God. He says, “Observe them carefully, for thus will you give evidence of your wisdom and intelligence to the nations, who will hear of all these statutes and say, ‘This great nation is truly a wise and intelligent people.’” So we’re going to follow the laws because then other people will think better of us? I know that it was important for early Christians to prove their faith, but is that the only motivations?
Yet, these laws and traditions are continued because they continue to be meaningful and applicable. Two thousand years later, we wouldn’t be reading this ancient story if it hadn’t been preserved and passed down through the centuries. With this in mind, I took a deep breath, reread the story and found a new perspective. Several verses later, Moses also notes that the people should not follow the law blindly, but incorporate their own experience. “However, take care and be earnestly on your guard not to forget the things which your own eyes have seen, nor let them slip from your memory as long as you live, but teach them to your children and to your children’s children.”
It is this passage that rings true to me. Much can be learned from the traditions of our ancestors. Those traditions must be respected and cherished for they represent the wisdom of generations before us. BUT you should still take into account your own experiences, questions, and thoughts. As citizens, we can apply these lessons to the laws that are decreed in our own time. We can take the time to get educated about the history of the law (respecting the traditions of those who have laid the groundwork) and then analyze that information based on our own experiences. It is a combination of these two thoughts that will produce a critical dissection and discussion of our policies and laws today.
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