Breaking the Rules

Politicians do it, teachers do it, mathematicians do it, kids do it, parents do it and writers do it too.  I’m talking about breaking the rules.   It comes naturally to some; it’s a struggle for others.   It’s associated with guilt, bad behaviour, innovative thinkers and trailblazers.   When we break the rules, depending on the outcome, we either feel good or bad.  Sometimes we get caught, sometimes not. When my youngest daughter was a child she would leave school property without permission, despite knowing there was a school rule against this.  Meanwhile my older daughter would not dare leave the recess playground if she was not in possession of the necessary signed note.  I am curious to this day why both girls, who were raised the same way, had such different views on rules and the desire to follow or break them. There are a couple of categories of rule breakers to acknowledge.  There are the people who go against the tide because they believe a rule to be wrong or unwarranted and there are the people who shun regulations because they simply have no regard for them.   I’d argue that the former rule breaker is making an educated decision so deserves a fair portion of our consideration, whether we agree with them or not. According to a study published in a 2011 Social Psychological and Personality Science article (as noted by Psychology Today people who break minor rules and act rudely are more readily seen as authority figures. It would be easiest to say that all people who break rules are psychopaths; people who lack empathy and disregard the rights and feelings of others.  The defined selfish, insensitive, arrogant, aggressive, irresponsible nature of a psychopath appears to be the exact nature of a person who breaks the rules. However it would be careless for us to presume that rules were only broken for malicious purposes by malicious people.  If it were not for Burma’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s continued desire to challenge the rule of her 21-year-long on-off house arrest she would not be free today.  It is interesting to note that Suu Kyi, having long followed Ghandi’s philosophy of non-violence as a means of resistance and change, got her way by not breaking the rules but by working tirelessly to change them. What are rules anyway and who makes them?  They are our society’s system of order (murder is wrong, pay your taxes, wear your seatbelt), they are nature’s way of continually moving forward (the sun rises in the morning and sets at night, animals are born and animals die) and they are human truths (we need food, sleep, shelter and love to survive).  Our parents make them, governments make them, the natural order of the universe makes them.  And apart from nature’s rules they are all made by people so it stands to reason that they can all be challenged by people. To quote Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd President of the United States, “rules are not necessarily sacred, principals are”.  Now that’s a good rule to follow. | Raymond Matt, CFP, CLU, TEP, CHS | The Ontarian, Writer, Editor

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