By Robert Benne
In elementary school, the teacher would demonstrate the magnetic field of a magnet by putting iron filings on a paper right over the magnet. Sure enough, the filings would get ordered according to the pattern of the magnetic field of the magnet. I often use that homely example to illustrate what the Western tradition has meant by natural law.
The filings stand for us humans and the magnetic pattern represents natural law. Insofar as we abide by the magnetic field, we gather into peaceful, orderly patterns. Insofar as we don’t, we fall off the paper or wander aimlessly on the surface, bumping into each other randomly.
The analogy breaks down, of course, because we humans have the freedom to resist the patterns and go our own way.
Benne lives in Salem.