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Monday, March 18 , 2019, 5:10 pm | Fair 66º


Essay: Living the Dream

Kraus essay earns third place in Santa Barbara County Bar Foundation contest.

[Editor’s note: San Marcos High freshman Dillon Kraus’ entry earned third prize in the Santa Barbara County Bar Foundation‘s 2008 Law Week essay contest. The assignment was to write about the rule of law and answer the question, “Why is it important for us as individuals and for the communities and nations in which we live?” Kraus’ San Marcos classmates, Eli Harris and Amy Ransohoff, placed first and second, respectively. Kraus’ essay appears below. Click here for Harris’ essay. Click here for Ransohoff’s essay.]

Dillon Kraus (Kraus family photo)

Right and wrong, two simple words that pose such a dilemma to so many people, create the foundation for our society. They create a moral filter through which all of our actions and thoughts are sorted. But these words are inconsistent, seeing as they are so vague; there are limitless ways they can be interpreted. Some people think that certain religious texts are the ultimate law and should be followed unconditionally. Others think that laws are mere guidelines and should be taken into consideration, but are flexible. This difference in views and this lack of a universal train of thought is what makes us human, but also what makes laws so fundamentally flawed. It is impossible for laws to direct all people in the same direction, seeing as all people’s life compasses point in different directions. Still, laws are very important because they protect us and they keep our country in order. This is why we must have them. Although many people do not follow laws exactly, everyone except a rare few follow the guidelines, and are able to live within the boundaries of civilized modern society.

When I walk down the street at night, I feel safe, not because I know it is impossible to be attacked, but because I know we live in a society in which there are always repercussions for our actions. This is one of the main tactics and effects of the law. It is not that people are not able to break it, but they know that the punishment will always be worse than the reward, no matter what. This way law can catch all crimes in one net. It, of course, has specific punishments for each transgression, but the general idea is to make no crime worthwhile. This is a very simple concept, but it is the reason that laws are obeyed. Since, for the most part, laws are obeyed, our world is civilized and under control.

The main function of laws is to protect us, from each other as individuals, from groups, and from large organizations, such as corporations and governments. We are protected from each other for easily apparent reasons, such as crime and murder, or even car accidents. If people could go around doing what they wanted to who they wanted, this would be a very scary and unsafe world. It would be even more dangerous if the same was true for groups and parties, because much of the same would happen, just on a larger scale, and chaos would break loose. Finally, laws protect us from large organizations. The mention of government and corporations may sound strange to some, but the right to protest, go on strike, form unions, and even to vote are common examples. What is the First Amendment but the greatest example of a law protecting us from our government? Without this amendment there would be nothing to stop us from losing our freedom of speech and expression.

Laws are the foundation of our civilization. They are the guidelines and boundaries in which all people must live. Without them, life would lapse into chaos and there would be no way to live an ordinary life. There would be nothing to keep us safe and protect us from the injustices that would become a common reality. Without laws, the flawed order of modern society as we know it would be a quaint dream of unattainable beauty.

Dillon Kraus is a freshman at San Marcos High.

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