Have you ever heard someone say that they are attacking an organization, but not the people who belong to it? For example: they might attack a political Party, but say that their attack does not apply to the members of that Party. Well, as popular as this sort of thinking is in our society, this line of thinking is a violation of Natural Law. The person cannot be separated from the organization to which they belong.
First, we start by looking at the definition of the word ‘group.’ Individuals cannot be separated from any group to which they belong. If we could separate the members from the group, there would be no logic in the concept of ‘group’ at all: it would become a meaningless word. This is because the very idea of ‘group’ implies a collection of ‘individuals.’ A group is not a real thing. It is just a short hand way of referring to an entire collection of individuals with a common interest or characteristics. You can never point to a ‘group’ without seeing the individuals. So, rather than listing each person separately, we to refer to them as a group (or organization). This means the individual and the group are inseparably linked, and this is a fact because they are linked by definition. Remove the individuals and there is no group.
This brings us to the principle of Natural Law in question. In this case, we have a simple matter of logical extension. Free will demands personal responsibility. Membership in an organization implies consent to anything that organization does. Consent implies agreement. Agreement is an indication of will. In other words, if a person is a member of a group, the individual indicates they agree with anything the group does. Agreement is also connected to actions. Therefore, if the group violates the law, every member of that group is guilty of violating the law. It is that simple.
Now, I understand that humans will never be in perfect agreement with each other. This is part of Human Nature. This means that, if we were to hold everyone personally accountable for everything an organization does, there would never be an organization of more than one person. Under such circumstances, it would be foolish to be a member of an organization consisting of more than yourself. If the other member(s) did anything wrong, you would be held equally as guilty. Fortunately, there is a solution to this dilemma, and it is found in the principles of Natural Law.
One of the fundamental principles of Natural Law (and the Social Contract) is the notion of the rule of law. We can have organizations that do things against the will of some of its members without imparting guilt to the members who object. As long as an organization does not violate the law, the members who oppose a given action bare no guilt for that action. This is because there can be no guilt where no law has been broken.
On the other hand, if an organization does something that is against the law, every member of that organization has a duty to object and report that action, and seek to have the person or persons who actually set that action into motion and performed the action held accountable to the law. Any member of an organization that does not object and seek to see justice done admits to being complicit in that crime (in this case, by the act of remaining silent). Once again: membership implies agreement, and agreement implies the group acts in the name of every member. Therefore, sine no one can transfer responsibility for their actions to another person or thing, remaining silent implies consent, which is an admission of guilt.
Now, I can already anticipate objections to my argument. First, some will try to say they cannot be held responsible if part of a group does something without their knowledge. I agree, but then, members of a group have a duty to be aware of everything that group is doing — especially since it is being done in their name. This also applies to those members who choose to remain silent after they learn the group committed a lawless action. Such members become guilty after the fact (remember:silence implies agreement/consent). This is why I said any member of a group who learns of a violation of the law by that group after it has happened has a duty to renounce the action and seek justice against the members who committed the action. By seeking justice, an individual demonstrates they are not only innocent, but support the law. Anything less is an admission of complicity, which makes the individual equally guilty of the crime.
This is true because the act of joining a group is a willful action. By joining a group, a person is accepting a duty to be aware of everything each member of the group does in the group’s name. By joining a group, the individual also agrees to accept responsibility for every action performed in the name of the group. Continued membership in a group is a continual affirmation of these duties and responsibilities. It is simply a form of the Social Contract, only on a smaller scale. This is why people should be careful about joining a group and, if they join, vigilant in their duties and responsibilities as a part of that group.
[NOTE: In some cases, this may mean that members of a group are continuously acting in the name of their group. Examples would be membership in the military, police force, or elected office. In each of these three examples, the job description stipulates that there is no time when members are considered to be free of the requirements of that group (or job, function, etc). In other words, members of these groups willingly give up their claim to ‘privacy’ when they join the group.]
So, the next time you hear someone claim that they are excluding or excusing members of a group, understand that — under Natural Law — that person is acting lawlessly. They are trying to excuse the individual accountability of the members of that group or organization. That is a violation of Natural Law. Likewise, if a member of a group tries to claim they are innocent of some action performed by that group, and that person has not objected to that act and sought legal recourse against those who committed the act, that person is violating Natural Law. One simply cannot join their voice to a cause, movement party or organization and then claim they are not responsible for whatever is done in the name of that cause, movement party or organization. Nor can we excuse the members of that group. This is because a person can choose to leave a group. Therefore, if a person remains part of a group, and that group is lawless, we are justified in calling that person lawless.