Saturday, October 07, 2006

Rules are...What are rules for anyway?

If moral behavior were simply following rules, we could program a computer to be moral.
- Samuel P. Ginder, US navy captain

Very little about life is a matter of simply following rules.

For one thing, if everyone followed the same set of rules we would have cities filled with automatons. Creative people, innovators, artists, those with exceptional talent in any field would disappear. They are all different and part of their lives involves breaking or going beyond rules.

For another thing, there is no such thing as the perfect rule, one that fits every situation including a wide set of variables. We have laws, for example, but we need judges to interpret the laws as well as to pass judgment since in some cases even the intent of the person can determine innocence or guilt.

It's not true that rules were made to be broken. That saying is almost always used by people who should be following rules but refuse to do so.

Rules were made to be followed, but with flexibility. A police officer stopped a friend of mine to ask him why he was travelling at the speed limit when everyone else on the highway was going 20 kilometres (about 12.5 miles) per hour faster. The officer told my friend that he was impeding the flow of traffic, so should speed up or take another route. (My friend, a bit of a miser, follows the speed limits because it saves on fuel, so he was offended by being singled out for obeying the law.)

Rules may also be arbitrary. The "socially correct" movement is an example where people with a bent toward bigotry themselves attempt to control the behaviour of others whom they claim act in prejudicial ways.

Some people have a different way of looking at rules. Their attitude is: If I do it, then it must be right, no matter what the stupid rules say.

Rules are intended to be guidelines that help us navigate through the stew of social interaction with our fellow humans. They aren't perfect. We aren't perfect.

The rules aren't perfect. Work with it.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to put life in perspective.
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