In general, I do not like rules, but I recognize that they are necessary for a civil society. I know what the rules are. I do my best to obey the rules of life, but sometimes I find it necessary to break the rules.
Certainly, breaking the rules has consequences; however, there are times when breaking the rules is the right thing to do and we must accept the consequences.
This is at the heart of civil disobedience.
Here are some of the rules that sometimes should be broken and the ways we can know when we should do it.
Rule # 1 Obey the rules.
Sometimes the rules are wrong. Some rules should be broken and changed. For example, volunteers who distribute water in the desert along the border between the US and Mexico are breaking a rule/law. But they are also saving the lives of desperate people.
If we know that failure to do something that is against the law will result in death for another person, then we should be willing to break the law. Civil rights demonstrations in the 60s often had to break the law because they could not obtain a required legal permit from the city to hold a demonstration.
The city refused to issue one. The people who marched for their equal rights chose civil disobedience rather than obeying the law because their right for assembly was denied them.
They were willing to accept the punishment for breaking the law in order to march for freedom. They were right to break the unfair laws.
Rule # 2 Respect authority.
We should give people in positions of authority the respect that goes with their job. We should speak respectfully and act respectfully in our dealings with them.
Yet there are exceptions to this rule. If the person in authority does not have the moral high ground that is required for their position, then we must sometimes withhold our respect for them.
A person who shames their position should not expect respect. Honor belongs to the honorable, not the dishonorable person. Their position alone cannot command respect.
They must wield their authority with righteousness, not in wickedness. Respect must be earned, and when it isn’t, it shouldn’t be commanded.
Rule # 3 No talking.
In class, in church, in the movie theater, in public, in meetings, and many other places. The cultural norm is to obey the No Talking Rule. Yet there are times when breaking this rule is important and necessary.
If the person speaking states a lie or a slander or an insult to others, then we must speak up and speak out against what is said.
For example, if someone says something racist, offensive, inappropriate, or tells a lie or twists the truth, then we should say something.
We should not sit idly by while someone spouts lies or something harmful and wrong. We must talk.
Rule # 4 Never tell a lie.
This is generally a good rule, but there are times when this rule ought to be broken. What if the rescuers of Jews like Anne Frank and her family had told the truth about the Franks and others hiding in Prinsengracht 263 in Amsterdam during World War II?
Sometimes it may be necessary to lie to protect yourself and/or others from danger. A strict adherence to the truth could be devastating in some instances.
We should not lie for our personal benefit or to harm another, but we should lie when we can save others from harm.
Rule # 5 Dress appropriately.
School dress codes are severely skewed against girls rather than boys. The dress codes often put the responsibility or blame on the victim rather than the person who may commit an offense.
For example, most school dress codes regulate girls’ clothing much more strictly than males’ clothing. The reasoning is that if girls show too much, they distract the boys and can cause boys to think or do something wrong.
In fact, girls’ dress codes are extreme and often accompanied by body shaming attitudes. They are blamed for inciting boys.
Most religious dress codes are also skewed in the same fashion.
Women who are forced or strongly encouraged to wear an abaya or burqa are expected to hide their bodies from men. Their bodies are considered the problem, not men’s lust.
Conservative churches preach that women should cover themselves so they do not tempt men, instead of teaching men to control their desires.
Instead of setting punishments for men who fail to control their sexual impulses, women and their bodies are blamed for enflaming men’s passions and forced to cover.
The fact that this still does not stop men from attacking women is ignored.
Sometimes, it is more appropriate to defy dress codes and demand a change in the codes rather than conforming to Draconian rules.
I am not promoting the flaunting of rules and laws, but I do say that some are wrong. If the rule or law causes harm to others, then that rule or law should be challenged and should be changed.