We all used to hear it from our peers when we were growing up and as young adults. “Rules are made to be broken.” There are novels, jokes and songs about that very quote. When we were all younger (those of us who are parents now hear it from the other side) “It’s not fair!” was a common phrase that usually preceded the statement, “Rules are made to be broken!” When we’re kids, learning and reaching various stages of mental development where needs wants and desires are all that matter, this makes sense. At some point we progress in the understanding that rules are in place to keep us safe and others safe. Period.
I learned early that breaking the rules was not a good thing. I clearly remember in my mind 3 particular incidents. One falling from a tree I was told specifically NOT to climb and landing flat on my back which knocked the wind out of me. Worse than that feeling was the feeling of begging my brother to not “tell” on me. The 2nd incident involved me not getting up when I was asked. Part of my getting up in the morning meant feeding my Guinea Pig and giving him water. I didn’t get up when I was asked and the Guinea Pig died. The worst and most memorable incident of breaking the rules was when I skipped school in favor of going to the barn and spending the day with my horse. While I was busy whiling away my day my Mum had fallen on some ice and broken her ankle, badly, and they called the school to have me pick up my sisters at their school. Nope I wasn’t there. I don’t remember the punishment I think my parents let the punishment of guilt and confinement to my room suffice for that one and it worked for the most part. I don’t think I skipped school after that.
These days there are some rules that I unknowingly break, but for the most part I follow the rules. I follow them for two reasons. First, my experience in breaking the rules has always been swift and relatively brutal. Second, because in regards to the law I know they are put in place for safety and an offshoot of that is that Biblically we are told to obey the laws put in place by the rulers of our town, province and country because God has put those individuals in charge.
Another reason I follow the rules even in the face of others saying they’re unjust or don’t work is; how else are you supposed to factually prove they don’t work if you don’t follow them? Perhaps a deep question, but really? I had the delightful opportunity to work in a call center. There following rules is paramount however baffling they seemed to be and however enigmatic. It seemed there were some who understood what it would take to change a rule in 90% of the cases that meant proving the rule didn’t work by following it, but most wanted instant gratification of not having to follow the rules. Again, the “rules are meant to be broken” mentality kicked in. Needless to say most continued to break rules that never changed.
There isn’t many laws I would question in regards to the reason they are in place. I might question the eating and driving law that they are working on enforcing but then drinking and driving is not harshly punished where I live so unless we’re eating a hash brownie or a shroom pie I don’t see where cutting back the eating and driving will decrease the number of accidents if that is the reason behind that law (just a thought for the local governing bodies).
It does make me wonder why my being aware of the rules seems to mean my resulting consequences are far more rapid than say someone that breaks the rules constantly. We all know people like this I’m sure. The ones that manage to get away with everything. I figure that this must be in God’s hands. Even if we look at the “rules” such as the 10 commandments they really aren’t orders to make us do something we don’t want to. They’re more like how to live life without feeling like crap. Really does it feel good to cheat someone out of something? Lie to someone? Kill someone? The first two I can vouch for during my life time…it feels like crap…emotional guidance system says, “hey get back on the road and be nice because you’re going to make yourself feel like crap.” The last one, killing someone, I hope to never vouch for whether by accident or on purpose. So I ask all of you, why do we continue to break the rules? Have we not all grown up enough to figure out that rules are there for a reason? And that reason is not just to break them?
The Gospels say the Biblical rules can be summed up in TWO rules. Love the Lord with all your heart and love your neighbour as your self. Perhaps all we really need to do is…
Think about it!
©Adrienne McLeod 2011