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Published:October 13th, 2009 11:00 EST
The Rules Don't Apply to Me

The Rules Don't Apply to Me

By Tony Graff

I have a shirt that proudly explicates that the rules do not apply to me. Normally worn as a symbol of rebellion and individuality, I have come to find that it does indeed hold truth: Rules do not apply to me. 


Before I continue, let me define a rule, according to Tony`s Connotation Dictionary: A rule is something that doesn`t affect matters of conscience. That leaves two powers that will always apply, and cannot be quenched by time: Laws established by men, and Doctrine according to the Deity one chooses to serve. Laws and Doctrine have been around since the beginning of time, and going against either one hasn`t been very pretty. 


Laws, properly imposed by the Rule of Law, which in short tells me that I have the right to swing my arm until it connects with your nose. I am free to the extent that I do not impede on the freedom of another. Now, it may be argued as to what laws our country is currently running under, but, Thomas Paine was on to something, let`s stick with that. 


Secondly, Doctrine. What we do according to the God we choose to worship. Even not believing in a god is a form of worship and carries its own dictates, loose as they may be. For Mormons, doctrine includes not using alcohol or illegal drugs. For Hindus, it excludes all meat and necessitates meditation. For Sikhs, meat must be prepared to a certain standard. That doctrine, without direct exception from God, has always been in force. 


Now, with that clarified, let`s go on to the subject of rules, and them not applying. In preparing this, I am not saying to abandon all rules, but to treat them like Pirates of the Caribbean treated the Pirate Code: They are more or less guidelines. No cutting in line is a common rule and we all like to adhere to it. Frequently, I am allowed to cut in line because the people in front of me notice I carry one or two items and they are lugging shopping carts full of their purchases. The rule didn`t apply. We all love board games, and the first few times we play them, we strictly follow the rules, or at least the rules that we can understand. From then on, we are freed to ad-lib, or in more technical terms, create house rules. The rules that the game came with now only apply because we say so. If you don`t believe me, look at the Free Parking space on Monopoly. Strictly by the rules, it doesn`t do a thing. But you and I both know that we like getting the money that people make a rule we get when we land on Free Parking. 


Even in education, there are many opportunities for rules to be broken. When I entered college, I was told to forget all my rules for writing. There were many that were just plain silly, and rarely did authors follow them, like the construction of a paragraph having 5 sentences, and each sentence have a particular use and function that in reality limited people`s ability to write and turned many off from writing by itself. 

Sentence structure was almost thrown to the wind, looking at popular authors using one word sentences and incomplete sentences in the process of telling a good story. 


In the end, looking at the guidelines we call rules, this leaves us open to do a lot of good. When can you break the rules in order to do more? Bending the rules, as explained above, does not question legality, nor blaspheme the One you worship. This requires you fully know what is a rule, and what is a law or a doctrine. But, look around, there is a lot you can do.