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PRINCIPLE OR LAW?
James F. Baxter

I spent 30 years as a teacher of youngsters - grades 5 and 6 and loved it! They were great years (1957-1986). My teaching career was a direct result of my experiences of death and destruction as a combat Marine in two wars - World War II and Korea.

I taught my own four children, and hundreds of other peoples children, that legal, law-abiding behavior is desireable. However, in a civilized society, it is minimal behavior. Civilization cannot long endure if our conduct is merely "legal." For civilization to endure and extend personal liberty, human relations must be characterized by respect, courtesy, good manners, ethics, and morality - none of which are required by law.

"I didn't break any laws" has become the hissing cackle of false humility and hypocritical vanity displayed by the puff- adder politician in the White House and his "Sit Up!Bark!" emulators in the halls of Congress. He is a walking, talking contradiction of everything worthy I taught children for 30 years.

"I didn't break any laws" is nothing to brag about. Our ancestors were individuals and families of character as with most of the American people who do not measure their daily choices by what is merely legal. They have lived their moment-by-moment lives by respect for individuals, standards of ethics, and principles of boundary that transcend mere law. They believed this was normal and average civilized conduct. When they come of age, our children and our children's children will agree.

The actor in the White House is, by repeated acts of misconduct, challenging the statistical laws of probability and the Creator's sow-reap Laws of Certainty. Lying and cheating, and getting away with it, appears to be successful. But, like a speeder on the highway, "Success breeds failure." He will get caught or crash - or both! Count on it.

The day is soon coming when his former supporters will, by hindsight, speak his name as a curse. Many of us would have preferred foresight. But, after all, foresight has a prerequisite. It is called "making choices by principle."

James F. Baxter

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