Policy and Law arise out of Philosophy and Ethics. They are the Logos (spoken and written word) of the underlying Ethos (spirit) of what a society intends for itself and believes about itself.
If a humane ethos is prevalent and society intends for its implementation, their decisions and actions proceed to the structures of Policy and Law. This is the essence of Politics: the spirited struggle over the direction and implementation of Policy. Politics is neither a dirty word, nor a necessarily corrupt function. It’s good or evil is determined by it’s intent and resulting outcome.
In mass society, a single Law or Policy can drastically effect masses of people, for good or ill. A single rule can have a cascading effect and reach every member of a society. Examples include:
- What is counted as ownable property?
- What is considered or treated as excessive or imbalanced?
- If an individual is arbitrarily granted ownership of a resource, are there Laws reflecting a policy or ethos of sharing and fair-usage?
- If an individual or organization controls a production operation, what are they allowed or not allowed to do to the environment? What about to their workers?
In times of general wellness, there is a sense that public policy is fine, or as good as it can be. When opposite conditions prevail, however, it is important for the society to make expedient redress of their public policies, in order to limit or minimize the spread of loss and suffering. It is in such times that all members of society should be not only alert, but active in ensuring policies are changed. The continued suffering of a social group is real pain, and a form of tyranny being enacted by the neglect of others.
The negligence of comfortable citizens toward those in suffering is morally reprehensible. There is no philosophy or religion in history that tolerated widespread suffering. Such conditions are accepted only by the evil, the psychopathic, and those who due to various weaknesses are unresponsive to the needs of others.
If psychopaths are directly responsible for causing suffering, it is everyone’s responsibility to incapacitate them. Even animals know not to allow the dangerous and reckless to rule their packs. But if it is apathy and complacence permitting social catastrophes, it becomes the duty of every citizen to alarm every other to awaken and respond. A fire left burning in one house can quickly spread to the detriment of everyone.
Academics: What are the Intellectual Foundations of Public Policy
Whether one is writing policy, assessing policy, or casting a vote as a citizen, it is necessary to have some basic knowledge. A functional intelligence of policy must include:
- Economics/Critiques of Capitalism
- Facts/statistics related to each issue
- A realistic forecast of the likely results
- If Shari’a is projected into policy, the ijtihad will include all of the above, plus:
- Knowledge of the existing rulings and their evidences
- Knowledge of Usuul al-Fiqh
- Knowledge of Maqasid (Objectives) and their usage