Friday, June 27, 2008

Rules

I’ve been talking to my kids a lot these days about the importance of following rules.

Rules, I have tenderly explained, are made for good reason. They keep us safe. They protect us. They make sure we can live in an orderly manner.

The most frequently whined question in this house is “Why?” Even the two-year-old has caught on.

“Don’t pour your milk on the dog.”

“Why, Mama?”

“Because the dog doesn’t need a milk bath, you need to be kind to animals, and milk costs $4 a gallon.”

“Why, Mama?”

“Because the input costs of farming are becoming so outlandish that more and more dairy farmers are going out of business, which reduces the supply and thereby inflates the price. Add to that the rising costs of oil, our inability to drill new wells of our own, our growing dependence on foreign oil supplies, and the rising costs of transportation, and you have $4 a gallon milk.”

At this point, the toddler has dropped the milk cup and wandered away to throw the cat down the slide. This disregard for logical explanations is why I have abandoned my previous responses to the question “why,” which included a careful dissertation on the merits of obeying. Three more kids and a decade of eroded patience later, I have since resorted to “Because I said so!”
But it has struck me lately that some rules are just plain stupid. I’m not sure I want to teach my kids to blindly follow the rules when some of them are made to placate the demands of people who have no common sense or decency.

I think, in some ways, our society has become addicted to legislation. A couple hundred years ago, people lived without the benefit of a gargantuan government. Through the years, people realized that the government could provide certain benefits, such as public road systems and schools. These functions of government seemed to improve the society, so people looked for more ways that the government could be of service.

Eventually, the attitude of the people changed. Instead of appreciating government services, people began to demand them and become dependent upon them. They forgot that all those “free” services are not free at all; the more services provided, the more tax is collected to pay for them.

But now that the system is in place, it will not cease growing. Each generation expects more services, more benefits, and more rules to protect themselves. That’s why we have legislation introduced to ban certain foods to keep us from killing ourselves, to hire people based on color instead of ability, and to ban cutting down trees. We have created so many rules for our society that it takes several government agencies just to keep track of them all.

In some places, there are rules about how tall your grass can be, what kind of flowers you can plant, and what kind of car you can drive. I think most people want our government to be more diligent about protecting us from ourselves than about protecting us from outside threats to our country and freedom.

I went to the car dealership awhile back because I had received a notice in the mail that our vehicle was on a recall list. When I presented the card to the shop foreman, he chuckled and said he would take care of it in just a second. He procured a pair of scissors and snipped a leather loop the held the seatbelt in place near the seat.

“That’s it?” I asked incredulously.

“Yep,” he said. “Apparently someone got their finger stuck in it and got hurt, so they implemented a recall.”

Because people expect to be protected from such atrocities as stuck fingers, we have government recalls. We have voluntary company recalls to protect companies from getting sued by people who are now accustomed to being protected against their own stupidity. People expect Uncle Sam to be hovering around every corner, keeping them safe, fed, educated, housed, and medicated.

Rules and regulations are necessary in an orderly society. But teaching the kids to follow them “because I said so” is probably not going to work in today’s world. They need to know that we have to respect rules given by those in authority, but they also need the skills to recognize that some rules are just stupid. With some common sense, the Ten Commandments, and the Constitution, I believe our society would be better off than it is now with all the rules that have been legislated throughout the years.

Next time I answer the question “why,” I will try to keep my answer somewhere between a dissertation and the typical retort, “Because I’m your mother!” We need to equip our kids with the tools they will need to discern what is right and wrong in this world.

8 comments:

Prairie Chick said...

We've been dealing with rules around here too. More like consequences to breaking them I guess. I recently had the bright idea to talk to them about sports penalties and how players get sent to the bench for a penalty when they don't abide by the rules of the game. So now when they get sent for *their* time out it really brings home the fact that they are being penalized because *they* weren't playing by the rules, not because I am a mean mommy. I'm just an on the ball Mama Ref who blew the whistle on em' =D

Dawn said...

Amen!

Are you sure you don't want to run for polical office? I'd vote for you!!!

Brother in Christ said...

Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant. an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.
-Romans 13:1-5 (NIV)

minnesotamom said...

You are one wise woman! And I completely agree.

minnesotamom said...

Brother in Christ,

I submit to you exhibit A, Adolf Hitler.

The W.O.W. factor said...

I absolutely love your site..your insight..your values! Good job! Keep it up!

Brother in Christ said...

minnesotamom,

The laws set in place by a governing authority should not supercede God's law. If this is the case, the choice is to face the persecution of the governing authority, or to face the wrath of God.

Anonymous said...

Well, said.. Love your site..

Sandy

 
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