For me it is easier to use a school as an example.
The Imperial admin would have all the kids walking quitely down the hall, in order, in uniform, etc... As soon as one student breaks the rules, they are dealt with harshly. So harshly that it would serve as an example to the other students. This school would have a small population, bu it would be a school where the kids are never late, get straight A's, have no problems outside of school, want to achieve the highest level of academic understanding, and want to become leaders that will grow the community.
The Republic admin would allow the kids to get to class any way they choose. Uniforms would be encouraged but not required. The school would allow students to learn whatever subject they wish and even choose which teachers they want to learn from. Rules would be enforced, but from time to time, these rules could be amended. Students are encouraged to live and work as they see fit.
Both sound really cool right?!
That's the problem. Both are going to create a productive society but it's the means at which they achieve it. Evil exists on both sides, as well as good. In the stories the Jedi will go to great lengths to preserve a planet, but they will also not directly intervene to save the planet either.
An old parable asks this: A starving farmer is caught stealing food for his family. He stole it from a man who has more than enough food and even hordes it from other people. The farmer has 3 children and a wife who will starve if they do not eat. The law states that he should be prosecuted and the food returned. What is the right choice?
If the guard releases the man and lets him keep the food he shows compassion but he is breaking the law that was put into place to preserve peace in the city. If he arrests the farmer and takes away the food, he is showing loyalty and honor and letting a few die to preserve the greater good.
Jedi would show compassion, Sith would obey the law.
Which would you choose? Is there a right answer? It all depends on you...