A code, in the moral sense of the word, is a simple thing. It's a series of laws and rules written by human beings to set down a series of beliefs, a pattern of conduct or a collection of ideals. It is as tangible as the paper it's written on and it's easy to read, understand and, supposedly, follow. It's as real and as solid as the people who believe in it.
But codes, all codes, are held hostage by their solid nature. For though they are tangible, they are not rigid and are prone to being twisted and bent. Even though the words themselves are simple and pure, no code is so perfect as to withstand the interpretations of mortal men and the actions of souls living in an increasingly complicated world.
It's in that complicated world that codes find themselves pitted against themselves, one line against another, one paragraph against the next. Even a code with only two ideals will find itself in a civil war, Line A against Line B, faster than you and I can comprehend.
It's when these civil wars erupt that codes becomes something other than a rigid set of rules for us to follow. They become almost spiritual in nature as flawed human beings try to understand the "meanings" and "intents" of what was often written thousands of years before. We try to look past the simple words and find deeper meanings, meanings that we hope will guide us as we try to decide which part of the code to violate.
These battles can tear codes apart. Even the most useful systems and most heartfelt ideas can be ripped apart by internal struggles, struggles caused by a world that it couldn't have possibly forseen. Once-proud ideals are rendered useless and tossed aside, grand visions are lost and marvelous dreams are crushed simply because one sentence and another found themselves at odds and no reconciliation could be found.
That's why the written codes, though often good in intentions and wonderful in nature, can never be our sole guiding force. Not for our lives, not for our government, not for our world. Any code written by man to be tangible and solid will never withstand the shifting landscape of the earth. Without flexibility, without some means of resolving conflict, even the simplest of laws and ideals crumble before the forces of time.
The only code that can hope to survive is the code within each of us. The code we teach ourselves through our morality and our ideals. Even though we need laws as a society and the codes of paper have their place, any set of rules written by another will falter and any code interpreted by another will fail to represent us.
But in a day and age where every code is made of the shattered pieces of the countless ones before, finding our own ideals is difficult. But if we don't, we find ourselves either locked into a system that's doomed to fail or floating in the winds of the interpretation other mortals, most likely less qualified than us to tell right from wrong.
That's what makes it so important to try and to wrestle with the tough decisions ourselves. To shun outside influence and to think with our own minds and hearts.
For everything else is doomed to mediocrity and, in the sands of time, mediocrity is doomed to turn to dust.