Do rules matter?

All my life has been spent sticking to the rules and assuming that everyone else around me is doing the same. Why do I persist in this naive belief? I’m constantly reminded that other people don’t bother, that they shape the rules to suit themselves and consider me stupid for not understanding that they can be broken.

So if rules don’t matter, why do we have them? I always understood that the rules were to make sure that things are fair for everyone, that everyone has an equal chance. When I studied philosophy, I was taught that we support rules because we benefit from them, that while it is always easier to support rules we believe in, our ultimate belief in civilisation benefiting all keeps us obeying all rules, in the understanding that other people do the same and that’s what keeps us safe, content and progressing.

The trouble with bending or breaking a rule is that you have to know when to do it. Is it appropriate to bend it now? How about now? If you’re ignoring it most of the time, what’s the point in having it anyway?

And so I plod on, doing as I’m told, following the path laid down while all around me people seem to dance on the grass and in the flower beds, enjoying their freedom and seeming to suffer no ill-effects; all the time I know that the moment I put a toe off the path someone will scream at me because even though others are doing it, I’m DOING IT WRONG.

I tried to find a suitable quote for my blog title. All the quotations I came up with seemed to be about how sticking to rules was boring and unconstructive, and how you had to break rules to get anywhere.

Is that true? Because that makes me very insecure. If I haven’t got the rules to rely on, something laid down in black and white that I can understand and stick to, then I’m lost. I’m just put in a position where I have to say, “I don’t understand your rules, I can’t stick to them, I don’t know when I can break them and so forget the lot of them, I’ll just use my own.”

And that, my friends, is the point where society starts to break down.

What about you? Do you stick to the rules? Do you understand the rules so thoroughly that you’re confident in knowing when and by how much you can bend them? Or do they not matter at all to you, and you break them without a second thought?


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