The written laws and constitutions of most countries seek to provide the basis of a just society. Over time, and often in response to particular situations, changes are made to the law and constitution, usually to improve them. However, good laws are not always put into practice. This may be for all kinds of reasons:
- People may be unaware of them.
- There may be no organisation which ensures that laws are carried out. For example, indigenous people may be exploited or lose their land because there is no organisation supporting and protecting them.
- People may not speak the national language in which the law and constitution are written. They face huge difficulties in claiming their rights.
- People who are poor may have no money either for a lawyer to represent them or to take a long journey to court to claim their rights. They may also be fearful of the financial consequences if they lose a court case.
- Read Luke 11:42-46. What was Jesus criticising – the law or the practice of the law? What specifically did he criticise?
- Who do the Pharisees represent in today’s society? How do we learn about God’s law today?
- What examples can we think of in our society where the law is good but not carried out. What are the consequences?
- What could we do to help enforce good laws that are not always followed in practice? What action could we take?
- Some countries may have different systems to provide poor people with legal representation. This usually involves legal aid of some kind. Do we know of any systems like this in our own country? Where could we find out more?
Articles 3, 8, 28 UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights