"Good order is the foundation of all good things." ~Edmund Burke
We are a nation of laws, and our system works only when most of us obey the rules. Whether those rules govern our behavior in the larger society, or our actions on the playground, once they are established, we believe in following them. Playing by the rules is “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” extended to the playground, work place, and even to relationships. Rules are necessary for order, and only through the adherence (obeying of) to rules can we avoid chaos (total confusion). Our Constitution is a body of rules. Rules govern just about every aspect (part) of our lives. They are for our good and we benefit from obeying them.
No one is above the rules, and in an orderly society people must obey rules. Americans are generally dissatisfied when someone acts as if he/she is above the rules. The order and safety of society depend upon people obeying the rules. If drivers didn’t obey traffic rules, driving would be chaotic and deadly. Practically all of our interactions (dealings with others) are governed by rules that must be followed if those interactions are to be successful. Our civility and success as a nation can be measured by how well most of us obey the rules. In the purest sense, rules are guidelines to goals; they are the path we follow to reach the goals we seek.
One’s character in relationship to rules can be judged by how closely he obeys the just rules that govern his behavior in any particular situation. Since we benefit from others obeying rules, good character demands that we obey them also. To ask others to obey rules that we will not obey is bad character.
Many school activities give you a chance to test and build your character. Many activities are done in groups, and in practically all group activities there are rules. Abiding by rules while working in a group helps develop character. Playing by the rules is what you give back to the group for being allowed to be a part of the group. Playing by the rules earns us a right to play with others who play by the rules. When we chose to play in a group we enter into a social contract with others who are in that group. That contract obligates us to abide by the rules of the group. To enter the contract and not abide by the rules is bad character. People of good character learn the rules before they get involved in an interaction, and once they sign off on the rules they play by them, even when it hurts. Children who learn to play by the rules when they are young usually grow up to be law-abiding citizens. Young people who are allowed to repeatedly break rules often get into trouble with the law.
There will be rules in sports, friendships, households, marriages, and practically all of our interactions and endeavors. Those who play by the rules usually get along better and are more respected in each of those situations.
Good character demands that you obey the rules even when no one is watching. And keep in mind, in many cases people are watching even when you think they are not.
Rules to Live By
1.Know the rules.
2.Obey the rules or don’t get involved.
3.Demand that others obey the rules.
4.Accept the penalty when you break the rules.
5.Make sure the rules you make are fair.
6.Don’t have one set of rules for yourself and another set for others if all other things are equal.
7.Don’t get angry with persons who enforce just rules.
8.Don’t claim ignorance of a rule after you have broken it.
9.Uphold the rules when they are threatened by others.
10.Support those who enforce the rules.
Character in Daily Life
Angie and Michelle knew the school rules against cell phones in class, but they took theirs anyway. The teacher discovered them and insisted that they turn the phones over to her and pick them up after class. Angie told the teacher it was her phone and the only way she would get it from her would be to take it. Michelle apologized and turned her phone over to the teacher. Angie refused and was suspended.
What do you think of the character and behavior of Angie and Michelle?
What is the good character thing to do when you are caught breaking a rule?