Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Signs and rules

Someone once said: “Rules are for the guidance of wise men and the obedience of fools.” Rules replace thought. If you know the rules, you always know what to do. Rules are comfortable. If you know the rules, you never have to stretch too far. Rules are safe. You probably will not get in trouble for following the rules. Unfortunately, you probably will not make much progress either.

When I was working, one of the areas I had responsibilities for was relatively new program and had no history or regulations to guide how we should carry out what we thought was correct. Therefore, I became a rule maker. I saw myself as a trailblazer setting guidelines so others could follow and not make the same mistakes I made. Over time my successful actions became rules for doing and my unsuccessful actions became rules against doing. Those, rules became regulations and then those regulations became procedures. 

After I left my position, the person who I had selected to replace me, took all of the information and created a handbook full of rules, regulations, procedures, which others working in our area had to follow. Over time, this handbook became the only rules to follow to be successful. The programs I started were successful not because of the rules, but because we broke the rules that were in place at the time. 

People, I find tend to follow rules if they make sense to them or if they benefit in some way. We often ignore rules or signs that do not seem to have major consequences: keep off the grass; do not pick your nose; no loitering. Laws are rules that require stricter observance. We obey laws because if we do not, we are punished. Nevertheless, if over time, the law becomes irrelevant to the majority, the law will be ignored or will be removed from the books.

Then there are customs, which, are not really rules but we tend to obey them so that we aren’t frowned up by our peers. For example: eat with a fork, do not burp in public, and wear your gang’s colors.

Finally, there are the rules or paradigms on how we live our life and which shape our attitudes toward life. We learned these personal rules of living from our parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts and other extended family and from our friends as we were growing up. As we matured, we learned to question societies rules, our laws and societies attitudes, which is a good thing, in my mind. 

However, many of us have failed to question our own way of looking at the world and it would be a good thing if we did that sooner as opposed to later in life. If we do not question that or our  way of viewing the world, or our rules we will certainly not make any progress, but we will remain comfortable and safe. Being comfortable and safe in an ever changing world is dangerous to your health.

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