In ‘Cold War 2’ (寒战 2), is an interesting courtroom debate. A police commissioner who did not do something according to traditional S.O.P. (Standard Operational Procedure) in the course of his duty explained that, ‘In extraordinary times, it is required to use extraordinary methods.‘ (非常时期要用非常方法。)
To that, a legislator rebutted that, ‘It is because those in power have the power, to define when are extraordinary times, so, even during extraordinary times, you also should not use extraordinary methods!’ (就是因为掌权者有权力，去定义什么是非常时期，所以就算是非常时期，你都不可以用非常方法！) The retort was that, ‘Not relying on the usual rules and not being legal are definitely two matters!‘ (不依常规和不合法决定是两回事！)
Although the argument was over a worldly issue, it runs in parallel to the subtle balance needed between upholding the letter and the spirit of moral precepts. (Then again, what worldly matter does not have spiritual considerations of right versus wrong, more right versus more wrong?) While we must understand the letter of morality clearly spelled out, to NOT follow rules blindly in sudden non-textbook situations, we also need to live the spirit of the precepts.
With no spirit of the precepts, the letter is lifeless. We must skilfully apply and adapt, doing what is needed, even if it seems against the rigid grain of the letter at times. Lacking good faith, one risks abuse of power or plain inaction, both for some selfish advantage, while others might be harmed. As Stonepeace put it, practical application can be even more complex, for ‘The legal is not always the moral. The moral is not always the legal.‘ Tricky stuff!
Please Be Mindful Of Your Speech, Namo Amituofo!