The following is from an article entitled “Wise Men Bearing Gifts, Their visions of a better world have made our lives the richer,” by F. R. Duplantier, appearing in the publication of The New American on December 22, 1986.

“By the grace of God, human intermediaries had visions of a better world, and they dedicated their lives to the formulation of precepts and comprehensive systems by which their fellow men might improve the quality of their lives. 

“The products of these visions of a better world, are guidelines for right living, systems of government by which the individual may exercise mastery over himself and by which a community of individuals may establish peace and unity among themselves. They are, in short, laws. Like all just laws, they are ennobling concepts. Far from enslaving man, by eliciting and nurturing his better qualities just laws have continually liberated him.

“Aristotle warned us of the dangers of democracy, and this, with the complementary notion of the golden mean, can be considered his greatest gift to us. Like his teacher Plato, Aristotle believed that communities are established when men are ‘drawn together by a common interest, in proportion as each attains a share in good life.’ This good life, Aristotle asserts in his Politics, ‘is the chief end, both for the community as a whole and for each of us individually.’ According to Aristotle, [a form of government] could be acceptable to its citizens so long as its constitution were right: ‘Those constitutions which consider the common interest are right constitutions, judged by the standard of absolute justice. Those constitutions which consider only the personal interest of the rulers are all wrong constitutions, or perversions of the right forms.’

“Because [any form] of government is susceptible to perversion, when rulers act according to their own rather than the common interest, justice demands that the rulers—whatever their number—be bound by law. ‘Law contains no element of passion; but such an element must always be present in the human mind.’ Men have a right to expect impartiality when they sue for justice, and for this they need ‘a neutral authority; and law is a neutral authority.’ For this reason, the sovereignty of the law must supersede the sovereignty of the ruler.

“To recognize that the law is a higher authority than the ruler, says Aristotle, is to recognize that the law proceeds from a higher authority: ‘He who commands that law should rule may thus be regarded as commanding that God and reason alone should rule; he who commands that a man should rule adds the character of the beast.’”

~ David Norris

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