The Law-Abiding Citizen: Why Do People Obey the Law?

law abiding citizens

The rule of law, which means that no one is above the law, is the cornerstone of almost every developing society in the world. No matter who you are, what role you have in society, regardless of how wealthy you are, is bound by law.

So how does one become a law-abiding citizen?

Predominantly, for you to obey the law, you have to know the law. Because ignorance of the law excuses no one, most people who could not get an education become ‘victims’ of it, and they can not do anything about it but pay the consequences—once again, the rule of law.

To become a law-abiding citizen and keep yourself away from legal troubles, educate yourself about the rules and regulations in your society that are in a function to keep it running smoothly.

While you don’t have to study law like lawyers, you can learn what is legal and illegal by regularly watching and reading the news. But that’s just one. There are many ways you can be a responsible citizen by being fully aware of what’s happening around you and acting accordingly.

It is an advantage if you knew about the tiniest details of the law, but it is not necessary unless you have plans of becoming a lawyer.

At least learn the basic laws that keep your community in order. They could be as simple as stopping at stoplights and crossing when the green light is on. For first-time drivers, though, it’ll help to take your first-time driver course online or TLSAE course seriously because not only will it help you pass your DMV exam but it can teach you what you need to avoid going to prison.

The next question is, why do people obey the law?

To avoid adverse consequences and legal sanctions

This is probably the most common reason why people follow the law. They do it because authority is asking them to. It is as simple as not wanting to over-speed when driving because you do not want to get a ticket and eventually have to pay for it.

People obey not because they believe over-speeding is wrong but because the authorizing body made it a law. Everyone must follow the rule regardless of their opinion and how they feel about it; otherwise, they may receive sanctions associated with this traffic violation.

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To show respect to the authority

A law-abiding citizen will not over-speed whether an officer is around or not. Why? Again, he does not believe that over-speeding is wrong but simply because he respects the authority.

This reasoning is more of an obligation and a concept of giving back to society rather than having a fear of facing the consequences such as paying fines or rendering jail time. In most cases, the authorizing body in your society provides its citizens with free essentials such as healthcare, education, and security.

In exchange for these benefits, its citizens feel the urge to repay the authority by obeying the laws they have mandated. After all, these laws are made to protect its people—at least that is how it should be in the real world.

It is more of a give-and-take concept. The more citizens obey the law, the more the governing body ‘rewards’ their citizens. This is how the authority earns respect from its citizens.

It is righteous

This has totally different reasoning because morality plays a role. You obey a policy because you listened to how you feel about it. For instance, you do not shoplift because it is against your morals, you know to yourself that it is a ‘bad thing’ to do and it can harm other people. And that is why you do not shoplift.

It’s like even if there is no existing law punishing shoplifters, you would still not do it because it feels wrong to you.

The same thing goes with doing what is righteous. For example, parking your car only at parking areas. You do it because you know to yourself that if you park just about anywhere, it can cause traffic or worse, serious accidents.

People obey the law because they respect the authority, want to avoid legal consequences, and because it is right to do so.

Being a law-abiding citizen helps society to run smoothly and to thrive. When society thrives, so do the people living in it. Therefore, being bound by law makes a society a better place to live in. If you want to live in a better society, be a law-abiding citizen.

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