Society has become a victim of rules! There are rules on how to raise children, on how to have sex, on how to treat one another, on how to fight a war, on how to be more human, on how to think, on how to have meaningful relationships, on how to date, on how to…etc, and then there are the Oprah’s, the Dr. Phil’s and the Media Moguls who relish in telling people on how to be men, to be women, to have orgasms, when to marry, why not to marry, be all you can be, achieve maturity, be free, find the G spot, have mighty erections, loose weight, be parents, and so on.
Nothing is undertaken without some form of instruction: we need psychiatrists, we need motivational speakers, we need decision makers and we need soothsayers. And then there are self-imposed etiquettes that dictate what may be spoken about in polite-conversation and how to act in public.
What about the modern propensity to Political Correctness, where new definitions on how to class people’s disabilities are the rule of the day - hearing impaired, mentally impaired, physically challenged…? (Why must modern bureaucratic systems insist on having to categorize measure, diagnose and appraise society in order to keep it functioning in an organised way?)
The deliberation at hand is not on instructional credos like the rules of mathematics, reading, hygiene, etc, but on all the superfluous gumph that common sense and reason, more often than not, provides answers for. It’s as if we want to be something that we are not, but that in the process of protecting that allusion, we have been reduced to levels of indecisiveness.
Being imperfect (not in a religious sense) by nature, means that learning by trial-and-error is what life is all about. Undertaking life-tasks without having to readjust in mid-step is unheard off. As Robert Burns so aptly put it “best laid plans of mice and men” usually go awry, for unforeseen circumstances overcome all humans.
Why then, are we so passionate at wanting rules? Is it because of the comfort they offer? Is it because, by following the rules, there is a lesser risk of being called upon to answer for one’s actions? – (Michel Foucault, a French philosopher, observed that Modern society, rather than being based upon greater individual freedom as its apologists suggest, is in fact a disciplinary society that exerts its controlling influence through instilling guilt, shame and a general sense of abnormality in those who transgress the norms.)
Have we become sheep?
All positive strides undertaken by humankind had a risk taker at its helm. Not a passive rule player that stuck to the norm in case it all went sour and then had to face barrages of “I told you so” insults - and maybe therein lies the problem; our overly cautious approach to ‘causality’ (cause and effect,) is driving us to being guarded, non-committal and open to indoctrination.
Yet, in amongst all the ‘how-to’ literature and philosophies, there exists a world of questioning and intellect, that manages to keep its head above the whirlpool waters of ‘how-to’ information. The common denominator being the ability to observe and question with impudence, using powers of reason and common sense - all inherent abilities found within the human genome.
The solution to avoiding the ‘how-to’ trap lies within the grasp of all humans. All it takes is thoughtful assertion, pensive stability, cognitive curiosity; and the ability to overlook frailties for ‘even the bright are given to forays of ignorance.’
“Bah bah black sheep, have you any wool. Yes sir, yes sir, three bags full…”