Throughout literature there has always been a battle between human law that governments put into place in order to govern societies as well as higher law which means the law of God. This battle has been fought in history and in books. The United States of America was founded mainly because of religious intolerance in Great Britain so it is a battle that is still going on today. There is a battle also being fought in the Antigone and the Judgment at Nuremberg that can be seen throughout both discourses that really puts into question what law is actually valid.
Antigone is the a tragic play written by the poet Sophocles, in this play Antigone decides to bury her brother even though the human law at the time prevented it because her brother was deemed a traitor. Antigone does not accept this so she goes against Creon’s law and buries her brother anyway. “’Nor could I think a decree of yours/ Man-could override the laws of Heaven/ Unwritten and unchanging’ (lines 435-55).
Creon believes that Antigone should be punished because she disobeyed the law, Antigone’s argument is that only God can dictate what is correct and what is incorrect, no manmade law can dictate that. The issue here is control and power. If citizens of a democracy choose to follow higher law vs human law than society can literally become a warzone like it is in my countries to this day. Antigone was also concerned for her Brother’s well being in afterlife, which human law has not control over. “A sinless sinner, banned awhile on earth, But by the dead commended; and with them I shall abide for ever. As for thee, Scorn, if thou wilt, the eternal laws of Heaven.” (Antigone 69-79). Antigone was the only real rebel everyone else around her knew that they had to follow Theban law but she was worried for her brother’s second eternal life that had nothing to do with the human life.
The Judgement of Nuremberg was the Judgement given during the the post holocaust trials of the SS officers and all of the people involved. Here there was another problem a lot of the Nazi officers said that they could not be tried as criminals if the were just doing their job and following orders. The issue that was brought up by the people in court was that even though they where just doing their job they knew that people were dying and being killed and they allowed it. It was during the Nuremberg trails that the concept of Higher Law was used to convict criminals. It was said by the British lawyer Sir Hartley Shawcross, “For those who obey orders – whether legal or not in the country where they are issued – are manifestly contrary to the very law of nature from which international law has grown” (wnd.com). The argument her is that higher law also known as natural is what helped mold international law and it was from these experiences that the law was actually made.
Both pieces and experience in history had a similar outcome. They both used Higher Law to explain their actions and reason why they were choosing to behave and act the way they are. aT the end of the day it is a personal preference for each person to decide whether they want to follow higher law or common law.