Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Follow the rules and don’t make a wake


One of the great things about the United States is we are a country of individuals. By the very nature of our Constitution, we are guaranteed the freedom to be allowed to live our lives and express ourselves, even if we choose to do so in a way that is “different” than our neighbors. Of course, individual rights must be balanced with the rights of others.

We have the individual right to play music in the middle of the night. Yet the exercise of that right must be balanced against the rights of my neighbor who is trying to sleep at 2 a.m. and does not want to hear a stereo cranked up to the point of shaking him out of bed. This balancing act is what creates a world where people can still be individuals, but society can still function effectively. It is the social contract. It requires a little give and take sometimes, but isn’t that the way it ought to be? Shouldn’t we try and be respectful of the wishes of others and shouldn’t they “bend” a little sometimes to accommodate the “other guy”? Sounds a little like the “golden rule” doesn’t it?

Just this past week I volunteered to help with the organizational part of the big 4th of July parade. I got to my post early in the morning, and as parade participants arrived, helped direct them to their proper location in the parade line. The organizers of the parade had given each entry specific instructions of where to park their cars, the time for entries to arrive, and the directions for lining up. After years of experience, there is a plan in place which assures the best flow of traffic and eliminates difficulties and confusion.

This was not some every day, small-town parade. It had over 100 entries and the parade took an hour and fifteen minutes to pass. Crowds were overflowing and full of enthusiasm. The floats were designed and constructed masterfully. The whole town looks forward to the parade and cooperates to make it come off without issues.

Irrespective of the planning, the instructions and all the hours spent on organization, there are always a few people who believe they do not have to follow the rules. Mind you, there were not many, but there were a few folks who had not read the instructions they had been provided. They simply showed up, drove into the parking lot, and wanted to go about “lining up” as they wished. When instructed they had to go through the same procedures as everyone else, they became a little indignant.

I tried to be as nice and civil as I could be when I instructed the few “rulebreakers” they had to take their vehicle or float into a different gate. I explained if the guidelines were not followed, traffic would grid lock and the parade would come to a halt. In response, I got, “but I know where I am supposed to go”, or “nobody told me where I needed to go”.

The offenders I refer to did finally adhere to the same guidelines as everybody else. All they did by complaining and trying to circumvent the instructions everyone else was happily following, was to get themselves upset and to waste everyone’s time.

Were these few violators a major problem or did they prevent the parade from happening? Of course not. The matter goes to a larger issue; the mindset of some who believe they are exempt from adhering to normal everyday social rules. It is those simple rules which allow the world to function. It is respect for others.

It would seem there are those who either feel privileged and above adhering to rules, or they simply do not care about others than themselves. My guess is these same folks who sometimes park in a handicap space because they are in a hurry despite the fact they are not disabled. Or they go through the express line at the grocery store with more than the allotted items because the line was shorter, never minding how they back up the line behind them. Neither one of these incidents are major crimes, but they are reflective of an attitude which is all too prevalent.

My old “lake” friend told me a human should never be a “wake maker”. Never be the person driving a big boat, who leaves the dock area at full throttle. That man is looking forward and sees the smooth water, the beauty of the day, and is excited to have fun. He never looks behind him and sees the problem he creates by generating a huge wake. His failure to follow the “no wake” instructions does not affect him or the operation of his boat, but what he leaves behind sends boats slamming up against the dock and causes problems for others.

The world is not all about any one of us. It is about the shared experiences which make up the event we call life. It is ok to be an individual, to have your own views and to live life as you choose, but sometimes the social contract asks for you to remember your neighbors and think of others besides yourself. Is it that hard?

Thought for the day: Rules are for the obedience of fools and the guidance of wise men.

Until next time…I will keep ridin’ the storm out.