Friday, September 3, 2010

Rules Is Rules

I remember, when I was younger, having Sunday School lessons on consequences and how having rules don't necessarily restrict us, but give us guidelines to follow and keep us safe. While I'm not always the glass-half-full type, I did pick up the positive message. One shouldn't look at rules and commandments as things we can't do; we should think of all the freedoms they give.

I won't say that I always follow every rule I ever come across. That would be a complete lie (somethings else that drives me batty). I, typically, have a hard time doing something that I know to be wrong, though. If a sign says "No Parking," I'm not parking there. "10 items or less" and "no flash photography" mean just that. It's the hard and fast rules that I stick to. The grey, "yellow lights" in life are where I take my liberties.

A couple of years ago, my mom encountered a situation (which escapes me now) that must've caused years of frustrations to boil over. I can still see her standing in the kitchen, raising her voice to almost a yell and saying "I HATE RULE BREAKERS!" She kind of chuckled a little afterward, probably because the reaction surprised even her. And my dad, brother and I looked at each other as if asking "Is she going to throw something??" She wasn't referring to one of us, thank goodness, but that has since stuck with me.

You see, I'm with her. I hate rule breakers, too. Maybe because I find it extremely difficult to blatantly go against what someone has said not to do. Not only does it make me nervous about what consequences could have to be paid (the negative kind, you know), but I also worry that I may not be the only one to have to pay them. I feel like a lot of rules come to being because there wasn't a written rule to begin with (just the assumption of common sense), but someone or something took things a bit too far, one too many times. Which brings up another reason I have for trying not to break rules: I don't want to be the cause of anyone else losing privileges or some kind of freedom because I couldn't control myself. Or because I simply didn't care how my actions affected anyone else.

I guess, in writing all this out, I'm realizing that I'm almost more careful when other people could be affected than when it's just me who would pay the price. I also have a hard time when people don't take responsibility for their actions. Especially when they admit that they probably aren't doing the right thing, yet still say that the choices they're making are a direct result of someone else giving them a little rope.

I've made unwise choices in the past, have had to endure the punishments, and wanted to kick myself for being so careless or just plain stupid. I've also had the occasional that's-ridiculous-and-doesn't-make-enough-sense-to-adhere-to moments. And in the spirit of full disclosure, I still have them. When I was hung, though, I was hung. Maybe I just didn't get as much rope as the next person. But then again, maybe I have the keeper of my rope (be it parents, leaders, managers, teachers, etc.) to thank for being the way that I am today: a rule follower. At least 95% of the time...