another publication by IMAGE asia

What kind of justice do you deserve?

Are you, like most humans, a liar, a cheat, dishonest, biased, prejudiced and snobby?

  Bangkok / Boat Lagoon

Making an effort to self-reflect: This is a deliberately provocative title, in keeping with the ever-increasing rise of social media campaigns designed to capture the consumer’s interest through attention entrapment. Combining a reading of law with any other substantive subject such as science, psychology, sociology or politics can provide a consilience of ideas revealing about humanity, and a general dearth of ability to properly self-reflect without serious effort.

Understanding these issues exist is not limited to legal minds; much of society realises that there is a disintegration of norms and values causing global friction. Serious effort to self-reflect has become more challenging with the mountainous advent of superficial and shallow representations of humanity, most notably on Tik Tok, Instagram and other forums which, despite potentially offering a forum for positive developmental communications, are unfortunately the receptacles of some of the most shallow and narcissistic attacks on the time of multiple generations of ‘digital consumers’.

How Imperfect Are You? Self-reflecting as much as possible, I am an imperfect human being. My body is quite obviously far from a ‘perfect’ shape using primeval-esque criteria or a doctor’s handbook as an assessment method – which I don’t use when I observe or interact with other humans.

My mind has been assaulted by junk information for many years, although I try hard to filter and to absorb intellectually information where possible – but this is sometimes like swimming in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

I have made many life mistakes and I haven’t learned properly from all of them; I am not alone, thankfully. I have been mean to others, sometimes when I meant to be mean and sometimes through carelessness and I regret this, which is woefully inadequate as a remedy. There are worse misdemeanours, but I won’t list them here because other humans are excellent exploiters and will use such information as leverage, and I actually don’t trust most humans.

I am not writing an article criticising humanity from a position of superiority. My life ‘successes’ to date are truly meaningless in the timeline of humanity, and as a close friend often reminds me when we have occasion to meet, most of us are going to be forgotten after we die so worrying about our own importance now is meaningless and fruitless. I think the world might be a less egotistical Darwin-oriented free-for-all if a greater percentage of the populous admitted their lives have human meaning based on more than individual pursuits for gain. Shallow status seekers really are wasting their time and everybody else’s.

Global Chaos Whirlpool Reflects Human Chaos: The poor state of part of humanity is reflected most obviously in the polarisation of ideologies in global politics, the increasing divide between haves and have-nots, the abuse of concentration of power by undemocratic states, and the abuse of shadow control and power by so-called democratic states. This has been accentuated by the COVID19 pandemic. Some of the worst behavioural traits of mankind have manifested themselves in full view of and scrutiny by most of the world due to the speed and efficiency of digital communications. Anti-vaxxers, pro-vaxxers, conspiracy theorists, conspiracy and control cartel deniers, greedy self-serving state officials, careless negligent leaders allowing their citizens to be unnecessarily exposed to health risks, citizens not caring about their elderly, youngsters or other citizens as a trade off against their own selfish idea of freedoms. The list is close to endless.

Don’t Cite the Law as Other People’s Slave Master: This is a wake-up call to those who refer to ‘the law’, ‘in accordance with rules’ and other misguided beliefs in the ‘foundations’ of a legal framework, without any recognition of the purpose of law. This is a rejection of the stalwarts and dogmatic hypocritical snobby prudes who, out of sight behind closed doors, are totally fine with breaking social norms and the law, provided they aren’t caught or identified in the process.

Law is a reflection of societal norms; it is implemented in imperfect political systems by imperfect societies in an imperfect world. To refer to it as an immoveable definitive object is to deny the purpose of justice itself. Law often falls behind evolution of ideas and is often implemented to reflect electoral demand for a new legal regime, or international pressure to update global society, trade, business or the trend of the year. By its nature, law must be adaptable and must be adapted. That is because law governs humans and creatures on earth. None of us is static, nor can the law that beats at the heart of how we function be.

Our Minds are Complex, Intuitive and Instinctive, and we must Self-Regulate: Many humans function with similar patterns or behaviour, but there are millions of differences due to the complexities of brains and physical make up. The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion by Johnathan Haidt, is an amazing book that explores how our minds typically work – the engagement of the ‘intuitive’ part of our brain prior to the ‘analytical part’ – and how this function and embedded genetic or hereditary values combine to cause political discord and polarisation. Applying The Righteous Mind to some classic Orwell works, namely The Road to Wigan Pier and Keep the Aspidistra Flying, it is quickly apparent that the human race’s fuel appears to contain a large percentage of liquid snobbery.

Snobbery is a MEANS to Prevent the Working Class from Elevation: In the Industrial Revolution in the United Kingdom, coal miners, the ‘working class’ and the ‘poor’ were looked down upon as the ‘great unwashed’, considered deserving of the squalid conditions they occupied, pushed into the mental box of ‘uneducated and therefore better for nothing other than manual labour’ and generally avoided by the middle class and elites whenever possible.

Looking around in Asia today, the same issues can be seen manifested in the acceleration of growth of the middle class and the scramble for higher peaks by the already ‘high’ societal enclaves. The poor and working class, immigrants and migrants are often mistreated and considered ‘dirty’, ‘foreign’ and only good for a purpose to be determined by a state and the ruling class. And yet, this same group of people are called upon to fuel growth, construction, foreign direct investment and support of their despisers. If you aren’t driving a Benz, BMW or Ferrari, you just aren’t ‘successful’. This is 84 years after The Road to Wigan Pier was written. Technology develops fast, civilisation and virtuous behaviour, not so quickly.

Aside from the ‘hard’ actions we as citizens can put into play to try and improve our communities, such as altruistic behaviour, charitable contribution, overly promoted beach clean-ups and much flouted “I am taking a canvas bag to the supermarket” campaigns, there is a lot we human beings can do to change society for the better – me included.

This applies whether or not a person is guilty of some of the misdemeanours in the title of this article. We can all start calling out our own snobbery – where someone lives, what car they drive, how they were educated, their accent and our perception of their ‘background’ – and replace these stigma-compounding thoughts with warmth and interest, not highlighting uncomfortable differences, and helping those that want it, without expectation of reward.

We should stop lying to ourselves that what we read, what we observe is ethically ‘wrong’ and ‘unfair’, and that we are inherently fair inside. We humans are not fair – we are natural takers and exploiters; we have to regulate our minds and discipline so that we don’t ‘take too much’ from each other and from the planet we live on. We cheat ourselves and, when we promise to do more, we are lazy to fulfil that promise. We are dishonest when we jump on a social media thread and quickly criticise others with our ‘righteous minds’, not pausing to consider other points of view, the possibility that circumstances might have produced an extraordinary outcome or bad decision and that under pressure and stress we may also make the same mistakes.

I am the Law, You are the Law, We are the Law: If we want to cite laws to improve, we must improve our society and the system through which law is implemented. Law is a product of ourselves, and society has a collective responsibility for dysfunctional law. If we allow states to use their invented laws to murder their own citizens in the streets, supress and imprison journalists for reporting, and support modern concentration camps humiliating people for their religious preference, then we can’t point to the ‘law’ and say ‘it is what it is’. The law is us, we are the law, we are responsible.

“Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote of thy brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:5 [King James Bible]

By Desmond Hughes, Senior Partner of Hughes Krupica.
Hughes Krupica is a law firm which specialises in Dispute Resolution; Corporate Transnational and Domestic Law; Real Estate; Hospitality; Construction Contract Support; Transnational Structuring and Compliance; Transnational Commercial; and Litigation, operating in Bangkok and Phuket, servicing clients in relation to their business activities in Thailand and in other regions of Asia

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