Researched Author: Sir Godfrey Gregg GCO, ROMC
Nature’s Law, our Source of Autonomy
The opening sentence of the Declaration of Independence makes a pointed reference to the concept of “Nature’s law” to support its argument. As important as this reference sounds, most people today have no idea what it means. They consider it a catchy phrase, semi-poetic, that somehow adds resonance to the subject at hand.
To the writers of the Declaration, and their audience, the mention of Nature’s Law delivered a justification of moral authority. Historically, the term provided the foundation of jurisprudence, with roots going back to ancient Greece. Just like us in the Caribbean going back to our Colonial Heritage.
As a foundational concept for The Mystical Court, Nature’s Law provides an actual resource available for moral decisions. It offers the key to personal transformation that completes who we are, an underlying principle that makes freedom and personal autonomy possible.
What do we mean by autonomy? Autonomy means affirming and responding to the moral directives that we find within ourselves as rational beings of conscience. It affirms our own nature as creatures capable of virtue and reason (Areté), using conscience to help decide right from wrong. This provides the intellectual basis for justice and contributed to the intellectual climate of the Age of Enlightenment when the Declaration of Independence was written. It affirmed that certain rights and responsibilities were not only unalienable but self-evidently human.
The Mystical Court turns to Nature’s Law for its moral foundation of freedom and authenticity. This is why its concepts, principles and code of ethics resound so affirmatively to so many people. They often say that our words express their own inner thoughts and values as if they had written them themselves. That’s because the words articulate the rationale of their inner conscience, which is the natural conduit of Nature’s law.
Such autonomy becomes freedom’s truest justification. Freedom, without a moral imperative, without the individual’s quest for truth and virtue, fails as a human ideal. It is a state of adolescence that lacks justification. It is the nature of humanity to rise above the law of the jungle. Freedom helps in that endeavour, but only when it recognizes its own purpose. Without it, freedom becomes both amorphous and amoral, and our crowded prisons prove that.
If we want to be authentically complete human beings, we are expected to evolve from childhood to morally responsible adults. That means attaining a functional level of autonomy, which is the utilization of Nature’s Law in the form of reason and conscience. If we fail to do that, we remain the products of someone else.