Rules are a necessity. Without rules there is chaos. But when rules are becoming too rigid it can create another type of chaos also known as tyranny. Knowing when to follow the rules and when to break them (without turning yourself into a wanted criminal) is a tall order but I have decided to tackle this subject, nonetheless.
Our whole life and existence are based on rules that we have to follow. The country we live in has a set of rules that every citizen must follow. The school where our children go has various rules. As parents, we have a set of rules in our home. Friendship and love, too, come with a bunch of rules. Rules help in bringing order to society.
When I am talking about rules and breaking the rules, I am also talking about order and chaos and the necessity to balance conservative and creative attitudes. Rules are created to protect the status quo – not to spur innovation. People in power establish rules, and those people have a vested interest in staying in power, by creating more and more rules to the point of suffocation. Two years ago, people couldn’t leave their homes without permission from some authorities. Two years ago new rules prevented extended family members to gather around a table to have a meal together.
When to follow the rules and when the break them – An existential dilemma
Limitations, constraints, boundaries, and rules ensure social harmony and psychological stability. According to Jordan Peterson, we should follow the rules except when doing so undermines the purpose of those rules. We should follow the rules until we are capable of being a shining example of what they represent but break them when those very rules hinder the spirit of why those rules were put in place in the first place. We should respect the rules except when following those rules means disregarding or ignoring or remaining blind to an even higher moral principle.
We should all try our best to understand the rules, their necessity, their sacredness, the chaos they keep at bay, how they unite the community that follows them, the price paid for their establishment, and the danger of breaking them. But we should also be willing to fully shoulder the responsibility of making an exception when this serves a higher good, an elevated moral act.
Learn rules like a pro, so that you can break them like an artist.Picasso
There is an existential dilemma that eternally characterizes human life. It is necessary to conform, to be disciplined and to follow the rules, to do humbly what others do, but it is also necessary to use judgment, vision, and truth to tell what is right when the rules suggest otherwise.
The conservative and the creative attitudes have to be balanced, both have a role in society. The conservative type carefully implements processes that have been tried and tested over time in order to produce stability and value. The creative liberal type has the ability to pinpoint how what is old and out of date could be replaced by something new and more valuable.
The balance between conservatism and originality might therefore be properly struck by bringing the two types together. Conscious wisdom is to recognize that conservatism is good (with a set of associated dangers) and creative transformation is also good (with a set of associated dangers). It is critical to be able to recognize when the balance has swung too far in one direction.
Alongside the wisdom of true conservatism is the danger that the status quo might become too rigid and a bit outdated. Alongside the brilliance of creative endeavor is the false heroism of the resentful ideologue blinded by their ideology and set in their own righteousness.
Intelligent and cautious conservatism mixed with a creative liberal attitude keeps the world in order. A certain number of arbitrary rules must be tolerated to keep the world and its inhabitants together. A certain amount of creativity and rebellion must be tolerated to maintain the regeneration process. Every rule was once a creative act, breaking other rules.
So, when to follow the rules and when to break them?
We should follow the rules until we are capable of being a shining example of what they represent but break them when those very rules hinder the spirit of why those rules were put in place in the first place. We should respect the rules except when following those rules means disregarding or ignoring or remaining blind to an even higher moral principle.Jordan Peterson
Crazy things you won’t believe used to be legal?!
There are many examples throughout history of crazy things you won’t believe used to be legal. We tend to think of the law as an obvious truth, the reality is that society pretty much makes things up as we go along. A brutal statement you may say. But take a look back at history, travel back in time when your parents and grandparents and great-grandparents were kids, and all kinds of crazy things were legal from meth to owning people, to being able to legally cut half of someone’s brain out for being gay.
Smoking. Smoking everywhere used to be legal. People used to be able to smoke everywhere from conference rooms in office places to airplanes, movie theaters, and restaurants. If you smoked, you looked cool and for women, it was even considered a symbol of emancipation and equality with men.
Drugs. In the US, pretty much all types of drugs were legal at some point or another, from the soft ones to the hard-core type. This is because most drugs were either developed originally for medical reasons, accidentally discovered in experiments, or just plants growing out of the earth that people have ingested like food since the beginning of time. In fact, drugs as a terrifying boogeyman didn’t become a thing until 1875 when the first drug laws in the U.S. were passed. Cocaine was originally used in the late 1800s as a way to treat addiction to morphine. In 1884, Sigmund Freud (a chronic coke user) even penned a love letter to cocaine, called “Uber Coca,” in which he praised the drug for its “exhilaration and lasting euphoria.” When Coca-Cola debuted in 1886, it had two major ingredients: caffeine and cocaine. Why else do you think it is called “Coke?”
Slavery. Slavery has existed since the beginning of time and was perfectly legal around the world. Europeans enslaved other Europeans, Asians enslaved other Asians, Africans enslaved other Africans and Arabs enslaved other Arabs. The color of someone’s skin was not a key factor to determine whether that person could find himself in the unfortunate position of being a slave. Those who became slaves were chosen because of their vulnerability compared to other dominant groups and not because of the color of their skin. In 1793, the British Empire became the first nation to abolish slavery by passing the first legislation to outlaw the slave trade.
Lobotomies. Partial lobotomies used to be considered an appropriate way to deal with mental illness, and an encouraging procedure to handle schizophrenia, depression, suicidal tendencies, and other unwanted social problems – like homosexuality. (It was even sometimes used to treat backaches.). The procedure became very popular and in 1949, the originator of the procedure, Portuguese neurologist António Egas Moniz, shared a Nobel Prize for its discovery. The procedure could be enforced against the individual’s will. After a relatively short surgical lifespan (the Soviet Union was the first country to outlaw the procedure in 1950 stating that it was contrary to the principles of humanity) it was noticed that dulling the emotions produced more than a few negative side effects; namely turning the patient into a vegetable, a living creature with no sign of depression, but a creature unable to focus, unable to make decisions, and unable to operate properly.
Rules to break
We are surrounded by ‘well-intended’ rules and gracious advice from teachers, parents, friends that somehow become ingrained in us. The trouble is many of those rules often aren’t true and yet they have a major influence on our lives. Those are the rules to break. Instead of blindly accepting the rules set down for us by other people, we should learn to question them, think for ourselves, and be more fluid in our judgment.
The ‘accepted’ rule is that the internet makes you anonymous. It is easy to sit all on your own in your bedroom with your computer, to think that no one can see you. You use your computer like a mask, except that your computer doesn’t conceal your real identity. You may feel a level of detachment from your social networking pages or your emails, but the people who read them are very conscious that these words or pictures come straight from you. So, you have to take responsibility for what you say and do online. If you wouldn’t say a thing to someone’s face, don’t say it to Facebook either. Be considerate of what pictures you post or the tone of the emails you send. If you wouldn’t do it or say it offline, then don’t do it or say it online. And if in doubt don’t. I say the internet doesn’t make you anonymous, but it can make you a hero or a prat.
Social media makes you all way too comfortable with disrespecting people and not getting punched in the face for it.Mike Tyson
Another rule to break is to make a plan and stick to it. Throughout your life, you will have a raft of people from well-intended parents to teachers, spouses, siblings, etc… who will tell you that to succeed in life you need to make a plan and stick to it. Everything we do requires us to make a plan of sorts. Making plans is part of what we do every day, we plan our days at work, our weekends, and our food shopping; we have a plan for our short, medium, and long-term goals, and that is how it should be. It is particularly important to plan ahead for the future. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark, and you dig the well before you are thirsty.
‘Make a plan and stick to it’ sounds like very good advice. It encourages discipline and perseverance. The ‘sticking to the plan part’ is what demonstrates one’s ability to persevere despite difficulties and setbacks. There are plenty of great stories of people who kept going despite the rejections. J.K. Rowling’s original synopsis of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was rejected by 12 different publishing houses before Bloomsbury accepted it. In 2004 Forbes magazine named J.K Rowling the first person to become a billionaire by writing books. No doubt that her persistence to continue writing her novel whilst she was a single mother living on welfare paid off.
Those stories of achieving great success through sheer grit and perseverance are inspiring; we rarely hear stories that say, when the going gets tough, just give up, but these stories exist, they are just not as celebrated. Consider Isaac Newton who is famous for discovering the Law of Gravity; you may not be aware but before he achieved celebrity status, he wasted many years of his life in his quest to become a successful alchemist. Newton was obsessed with alchemy and spent years trying to decipher strange numerological codes hidden in the bible that he thought could give him the recipe for turning lead into gold. Eventually, he came to realize that his pursuit of alchemy was futile and decided to redirect his energy to more scientific pursuits, which eventually led him to discover the Law of Gravity.
Life is unpredictable. Adapt. Pivot and rectify the plan if necessary.Joanne Reed
To follow or not to follow the rules? May the choice you make be the right choice. And this my dear friend is your Quest.
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Great post. It’s hard to beleive that some of those laws existed. And it’s so true, there are many personal rules that we need to break. Maggie
Maggie. Thanks for stopping by and for taking the time to comment. Much appreciated. So glad to hear that this blog article resonates with you!