The concept of rules are very much maligned in today’s society. They are seen as cumbersome, intrusive, divisive, and even prohibitive to freedoms.
But are they?
What are rules?
Imagine playing a game of chess where there were no rules. No one knew what it took to win or lose. And everyone decided to play the pieces however they felt.
Could the game be able to be played along universal understanding of the game? Would there be any goals?
Would it be any fun?
Rules are the guardrails that keep society from falling off the cliff.
My chiropractor gave me the copy of a poem he’d heard years ago:
The Ambulance Down In The Valley
‘ Twas a dangerous cliff, as they freely confessed,
Though to walk near its crest was so pleasant,
But over its terrible edge there had slipped,
A duke and full many a peasant.
So the people said something would have to be done,
But their projects did not at all tally.
Some said, “Put a fence around the edge of the cliff,”
Some, “An ambulance down in the valley.”
But the cry for the ambulance carried the day,
For it spread through the neighboring city,
A fence may be useful or not, it is true,
But each heart became moved with pity,
For those who slipped over that dangerous cliff;
And the dwellers on highway and alley
Gave pounds and gave pence not to put up a fence,
But an ambulance down in the valley.
Then an old sage remarked, “it’s a marvel to me
That people give far more attention
To repairing the results than to stopping the cause,
When they’d much better aim at prevention.
“Let us stop at its source all this hurt,” cried he.written by Joseph Malins, 1895
“Come, neighbors and friends, let us rally.
If the cliff we will fence, we might almost dispense
With the ambulance down in the valley.”
Well thought out rules are a source of prevention. They keep us safe from overindulgences, harmful activities, unsafe conditions, and dangerous practices. And they help to maintain a repository of trust, such as when fair regulations prevent nefarious people from selling poisons as remedies to an unsuspecting populous.
When properly established, they keep us guided between the pillars of moral certainty and physical health.
Without them, the tendency of licentiousness and uncontrolled passions take over – usually to our detriment.
Good rules are not to be oppressive. They are, instead used to keep us from harm and harming others.
Used wisely, these guardrails become our guiding principals toward a more balance life. They keep us safe during times of stress, duress, or temptations.
Unrestrained passions lead to harmful relationships – not just with individuals, but also choices and activities that could lead us to ill spiritual, physical, or emotional health.
Define the rules that will challenge you to stay the course. Not rules defined by power trips, passions, or emotional desire, but those which lead to a more disciplined, emotionally and physically healthy lifestyle. Rules to help you grow in all areas of your life.
Start with the two simple Commandments Jesus taught His followers:
- Love the Lord with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind.
- Love your neighbor as yourself.
From these two Commandments came all the rest of the 10 Commandments. For if you love your Creator, you will love each person whom the Creator made, starting with yourself. In this way, you will be able to live within the proper guardrails of good rules.
Don’t despise rules…
Just rules aren’t made to be broken. They are made to help guide you to a more perfect life. And they help guide each one of us in all our interactions along universally accepted constructs. Without them, we would not be able to function as a cohesive, orderly community.
They don’t take away from our individuality. Nor do they take away from our freedoms.
Rules, properly defined, promote both.
So live life to the fullest. But live within the boundaries of well-defined rules to keep you on track toward a better life for yourself and others.