Constitution Day Lecture Calls for a Return to Natural Law
On September 21, Dr. Mary Ellen O’Connell Robert and Marion Short Professor of Law and Research Professor of International Dispute Resolution gave the Constitution Day Lecture on Human Rights and the Unlawful Use of Military Force.
Since 2005, it has been mandatory for colleges to hold an educational program on Constitution Day. At King’s, the McGowan Center and the History department have co-sponsored this event since 2014.
This year, however; the lecture is also sponsored by the Wilkes-Barre Interfaith Resource Center for Peace and Justice.
Dr. O’Connell is a professor at Notre Dame. She wrote seven books and is working on her eighth at the moment. She’s married to a combat war veteran. O’Connell has testified in front of the house of Judiciary Committee on protecting the U.S. Citizens constitutional rights during the war on terror in May, 2013.
Dr. O’Connell was named Senior Law Fellow at the center for Theological Inquiry in Princeton for 2014-2015, Vice President of American Society for International Law from 2010-2012 and chaired the Use of Force committee of the international Association from 2005-2010.
Her areas of expertise are armed conflict, art law, human rights law, international courts, international dispute resolution and of course international law.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. O’Connell before the lecture. I asked her a few questions about current world situations.
One of the reasons that Dr. O’Connell is so passionate about international law has to do with her faith. She’s Roman Catholic and from a young age was taught that the holy father wanted us to be peacemakers.
As Hugo Grotius states, “What God has shown his will to be, that is law.”
In her lecture, she talked a lot about natural law, which, is following the laws of the Lord as told to us by the Bible. This is no longer the way we decide what should be a part of the law and what should not be.
The rise of science and the fall of the Roman Empire are two reasons why this is no longer the way of the law.
Natural law is no longer discussed in law school. One of the reasons Dr. O’Connell believes natural law is no longer a part of the curriculum is because we’ve become a society guided by the theories of realism.
A realist thinks that either you win or you lose. They really have a black and white perspective on the world. They believe in making a military move when threatened as it will give them power.
We’re now seduced by the technology of warfare. We’d much rather fight than try to find a peaceful solution. As Iris Murdoch states ,“Good life is the unselfish life.”
Dr. O’Connell believes there is a way to return to a more civilized nation. She believes that teaching an aesthetic life style will improve our relationship with the world.
We should be looking for the beauty in all. We should teach our children to be selfless. We should be encouraging the arts.
Instead of allowing our children to mindlessly play war video games, we should instill in them a sense to search for peace. According to Pope Francis, “War is madness.” Perhaps one day, we will return to natural law.