Cataclysmic developments on the horizon announce themselves in the smallest portents --- the canary exiting the coal mine; the child's marble that rolls off a table in "Titanic" before any passenger knows of his doom.
Still meditating on mall parking lots, I have become conscious of my habit of hunting down the closest spot available. I do not stoop to snatching "handicapped parking"--- but not out of any compassion for the handicapped; it's consequences of the law I have in mind.
If there were not a law, would I ever, on my own, think of leaving the best spaces for the infirm and elderly and young mothers with toddlers hanging on the arm? It's a moot point; the law by its very existence creates a legal mindset, robbing the oxygen of any other motivation. It renders moral reckoning superfluous. Where laws multiply, the moral muscle goes flaccid.
Trace the dots from the microcosm of parking lot habits to the decline of Western Civilization.
"Every conflict is solved according to the letter of the law and this is considered to be the ultimate solution. If one is right from a legal point of view, nothing more is required. Nobody may mention that one could still not be entirely right, and urge self-restraint or a renunciation of these rights, call for sacrifice and selfless risk: this would simply sound absurd. Voluntary self-restraint is almost unheard of; everyone strives toward further expansion to the extreme limit of the legal frames." (Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn)