“There are two types of laws: just and unjust. Every individual in a society has a responsibility to obey just laws and, even more importantly, to disobey and resist unjust laws.”
From my point of view, I generally disagree with the speaker’s statement for two reasons. The author oversimplified the situation involved, and whether justness can be a judgment standard for obeying or resisting a law leaves to be questioned.
In most cases, the requirements of justice and the demands of law are roughly the same. For example, in most countries it is much emphasized by the customs that one who murders pays the forfeit of his life, and the laws claims so likewise. Here the two take different paths which nevertheless lead to the common destination that is to purify the social values and keep the public order. If one law is proved to contrast sharply with the widely-held justness, it may need revising to be adapted. In a sense, being fair to all may be included in the ideal goals that laws should try to attain.
However, justness cannot be taken as a classificatory criterion for laws. Laws, objective and independent of man’s own will, are made as universal recognized standards for dealing with affairs. But whether something is just or not depends on one’s subjective judgment, and the answer will vary for each one has his own value system. Michael J. Sandel，a professor at Harvard University, once used a dilemma to express his viewpoints to students in class. Just imagine, if four seamen are lost in the sea, all food nearly exhausted. The captain chose to kill the weakest one in exchange for the other three’s survival. So how can we evaluate his decision, just or unjust? The professor concluded at last, “There never was an absolute justice, but only an agreement made in reciprocal association in whatever localities now and again from time to time, providing against the infliction or suffering of harm.” I take his words for granted. That is the reason why dividing laws into two groups labeled as just and unjust seems to be unsound.
When it comes to the law concerning justice, I think the simplistic statement that to disobey the unjust ones while to obey the just ones is far from conceived, and will sometimes bring up conflicts and confusion. As we all know, opinions differ from perspectives and people holding diversified views hardly share a common concept of justice. For instance, abortion is considered just in some areas while evil in others. Defenders hold that abortion benefits the parents who are incapable of feeding more children and helps control the size of population, thus to enact laws which claims it to be legal and just. Critics argue that abortion is equal to commit murder to unborn infants and definitely belongs to the most unjust matters. Then here comes the vital problem: in order to keep just, should our law be in favor of the abortion? How can we decide? By comparing the amount of supporters of each one? Stated thus, we find that there are times when judging the justice of laws is difficult. Therefore we should not simply advocate disobeying laws taken as unjust by ourselves, which may lead to turbulence between dissidents in society.
So what could become the standard that is supposed be maintained when creating or estimating a law? Humanity may be an appropriate choice. Take, the ancient Indian custom, for example. According to the traditional law in some Indian states, women had to be burnt alive as sacrifices after their husbands died, which is legitimated and viewed as just by the mass. But is it the law that we should obey without any resistance? Admittedly, the law is completely in compliance with the so-called justness at that time, but it betrays the humanity that both laws and public ideas should be deeply rooted. The social concepts about justice may change from time to time and vary from place to place, but the essence of humanity remains constant and generally accepted.
To summarize, in which case a law should be disobeyed is a complicated topic for discussion. and take arbitrary actions without further considerations will only cause damage to our society. Overall, we may safely conclude that a law should be rejected if it is contrary to humanity.