People throughout history have defined – and had defined for them – the precepts by which they and their cultures define right and wrong. We are governed, to a large extent, in one of two ways: Either by those who would do the defining for us, or by democratic principles.
Despots (kings, emperors, czars, dictators, etc.) govern by force; i.e. those with the power do the defining. They do the enforcing as well, usually with ruthless brutality and a callous disregard for human rights.
Under democracy, however, we are governed by those we elect, and we are careful to limit their power, since in the words of Lord Acton, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”.
But in order to reign in such lusts as greed and power, the people must be willing to live by a moral code. Without an inner willingness to cooperate with laws that are not so much enforced as monitored, the people must WANT to behave. But what or who defines proper behavior? And if we are to be allowed the freedom to innovate, to pursue life liberty and happiness, how do we decide, in the final analysis, who decides what the moral code will be? We must decide whether we are going to be ruled by laws or by men with power to BE the law.
So by what moral code do we live?