Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Why I Hate Rules

1. Rules are for twonks. I'm not just making this up, the Bible says so... kind of: Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless... - I Timothy 1:9

It seems to me that most rules get made because some bozo screwed up. "No coffee in the reception area!" Guess how that rule came about. So now we all have to live at a standard that the gorilla from the 3rd floor can manage without trashing the furniture.

In the UK I can't carry a knife. Why? Because some knuckle-draggers can't resist stabbing people. So the law treats us all like maniacs who can't be trusted with sharp objects.

Now, I know we need laws. And I'm blurring the distinction between a law and a rule. Major laws, like those against murder and violent attacks are fine. But the problem with the incessant rule-making of our condescending rulers is that they consistently miss the mark because they aim at easy targets. It's easier to stop me carrying a pocket knife than to stop the utter scum who gets his kicks from slashing anyone who looks at him. Enforce the laws he is already breaking! But politicians prefer to make more laws. How could that improve the lowest depths of human nature?

The government now wants us all to carry ID cards. They tell us it'll help counter terrorism and fraud. No it won't. First the IT system will fail, then the project budget will explode, then the terrorists will attack anyway (only they'll have nice shiny ID cards when they do), and the fraudsters will counterfeit the cards. Yet more rules made because of scum, that will not make them one bit less scummy.

2. Rules are for other people. Rule makers are notorious for ignoring the rules. I feel this point is so obvious it doesn't even need documentation. Rules are used by those in authority to wield power over the masses. Government ministers set the state school curriculum, then send their kids to private schools.

Did you ever see the film, "The Cider House Rules"? Michael Caine's character runs a remote orphanage with complete contempt for the rules made by people who rarely visit and have no concept of what it takes to run the place.

3. Rules don't inspire me. Rules can never bring out the best in people because they treat people like they are stupid. If you treat people as stupid, that's what you get.

Greatness requires breaking rules. Who do you really respect in human history? Think about it...
Gandhi? - You don't protest like that!
Martin Luther King? - You can't say that!
The Apollo Program personnel? - You can't go there!
They broke rules of convention, received wisdom, and even the law.

What about great fictional characters - think of books or films. How exciting would they be if the hero played it by the book. That tells me that we aspire to be above the rules. We instinctively know that being a goody-two-shoes, dotting every 'i' and crossing every 't' is boring and only a shadow of all we can be.

What about Jesus? He healed on the Sabbath, ate with the publicans and sinners. He broke enough rules to get himself executed. He also summed up hundreds of Old Testament laws in two commandments - Love God and love your neighbour. That's what I'm talking about. He knew that if you want to inspire people, you've got to trust them to figure something out for themselves.

The hundreds of laws in the Old Testament kept a check on society, but they were not enough. People are not improved by the imposing of restrictions from outside. Something has to spark on the inside. When people love God and love their neighbour, they don't need petty rule-makers, they need freedom.


Peter said...


How about Matthew 23:24 "Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel."

Rules target certain kinds of behavior as universally unacceptable (no coffee in reception). But in the process of focusing on a known issue they become narrow and miss the broader issue (people should respect each other's property and treat it like it was their own).

Rules literally strain at some miniscule, insignificant issue and then miss the real issue completely.

Too many blind guides...

Anonymous said...

i hate rules too!!! sorry i don't have a smart quote or clever argument, but basically, rules suck!my mother just posted a set of rules on the fridge which tell me when i can watch tv and when i have to do homework. at school, there is a sign on the door saying 'do not use mobile phones on school premises'which is one of the most pointless rules in the universe! most people are intelligent enough to known when it is break/lunchtime and when it is lessons. saying that you can't use your phone at break is just idiotic, ridiculous and other synonyms for stupid.

yowillyjj said...

Well said... this might be a shameless plug but I blog about this too.
Peep my blog and follow if you want to read my gripes...It feels SO good to gripe

Anonymous said...

Totally agree.