- Most important is manners. What you do should be polite.
- Next most important is ethics. In the event that manners doesn't tell you what to do, ethics will.
- Finally, there is law. Law is only there for the gross violations. Ideally, it is all-but-invisible, with manners, then ethics handling things.
However, it can as easily be said that
Law is a result of ethics, just as ethics is the grossest outline of manners.
Certainly, it is part of a deep moral code in America that produces the freedom of (or from) religion that we enjoy. And it is part of a deep moral code in Iran that produces the lack of freedom of religion that they legislate. Law is a result of Ethics.
Fundamentally then, the core problem in the USA is that the collective ethics of Berkeley, and those of Dallas are not terribly well aligned...and yet we are trying to make a legal system that supports both of them.
As far as I can tell...the only sane solution is to move stuff out of the realm of federal control, and into local control. The more the better...with real results occurring only after tax authority moves away from the feds to the local unit.
EDIT: removed extra words.