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Topic: Learning for Life (08/23/04)
TITLE: Breaking the rules
By June Walch
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When I was in the 7th grade we moved to another part of the state and I began attending the public school system for the first time in my live. My eyes nearly popped out of my head when I heard my friends talking about how "rules were made to be broken". How strange, I thought, do you mean it’s like a fence for the cows and horses? For some of them it seemed to be fun to challenge those fences, and it seemed to be a
never ending task to keep the fences intact. We would no sooner get one fixed than we'd turn around and another one needed fixin’. But raised as I had been -- that disobedience to a rule brought swift and sure punishment in the closet -- I couldn't believe my friends would be constantly challenging the "fences" of school and their parents. Even more, I couldn't believe how often they got away with it!
Now that I am a Grandma, I have had some good conversations with my grandkids about how fences for our animals are like rules for them. My best question to my grandkids is this one: "What happens when the cow or horse runs through the fence and breaks it?” The number one answer: “They get into trouble.” The experience with our animals forms a clear picture lesson for them. Like when the cow insists on getting out whether by breaking the fence or jumping it, she still was breaking the rules of being where she belongs and therefore she usually ended up in the meat market! When horses won't stay within their fences, they are put in a stall or sold. Now that statement gets their attention real fast! With eyes like wheel hubcaps, they stutter out their "b-b-but Grr-Grr-Grandma, YOU WOULDN’T do that to US, would you?” “Hum,” I say with a smile and a twinkle in my eye, “don’t go breakin’ the rules and you won’t find out!”
You see, in my book, rules are not made to be broken; they are present in our lives to keep us from danger and destruction. Breaking rules seems to be a particular challenge to the youth of today. Having worked in rehab centers, and having counseled many teens, I am seeing the results of breaking the rules. However, this doesn’t start when they are teens, but as small children. I believe if all the adults in a child’s life were to teach today's children the value of rules, just like fences, which are meant to keep us safe and happy, we wouldn’t be seeing the horrendous lawlessness in our society, as we know it now. Overcrowding in our jails wouldn’t be a problem. Road rage would stop. Our policemen would not be shot, nor accused of brutality. Our churches wouldn’t be
vandalized, and our schools would be safe for children and teachers once again. My philosophy is simple: Broken rules, broken society. Let’s stop allowing our children, while in our arms, to break the rules! Furthermore, let us adults not break the rules in front of them! How else will our children learn and value the rules, or “fences,” and produce a secure environment, and become good parents and citizens? I really believe this is the only way to live in peace and contentment. We must stop breaking the rules!