Saturday, April 20, 2013

Following The Rules

So I was watching a show on Netflix (The Finder), and the main character said something that really hit me. He was discussing another character on the show who is a thief and a gypsy, and he says that trying to make her into a rule-abiding citizen will never work. She had both nature and nurture against her already. No one and nothing was going to change that part of her.

But he didn't mean for anyone to give up hope. Instead, he said something very meaningful. Instead of teaching her to follow the rules, you need to teach her the difference between right and wrong.

I've thought on this subject before when I've delved into what I call humanities greatest gift: the ability to see the big picture. And I've condemned our societies' means of teaching their children incessant rules instead of showing them how to see how their actions affect the big picture. Essentially, we aren't teaching our children the difference between right and wrong; we're teaching them to do what they're told.

Not exactly healthy, for them or for our society.

Of course, I'm not recommending we get rid of rules entirely. That would lead to absolute anarchy. But we should teach our children much more than just "Do this." and "Don't do that."

It's kind of like having a disease, and when you get to the hospital, the doctor prescribes a treatment to fix the symptoms you present instead of trying to find the cause. Sure, diarrhea and high fever have to be treated immediately because they can kill you faster than the disease will, but do you just send the patient home after you've treated the symptoms? No, you look for the cause and you administer a treatment for that, too.

The same is true in how we approach humanities' weakness: the inability to deny immediate gratification for the overall good. We teach our children rules and to follow the law, even though we know all the rules have exceptions and the law is flawed. And then we expect them to grow up to be law-abiding adults who know the difference between right and wrong.

Far too many times they don't.

The show went on to say how the main character believes the criminal should be taught the difference between right and wrong: let her see a lot of rights and let her see a lot of wrongs.

And that clicked for me. Because if you see a lot of rights and a lot of wrongs, you're going to start seeing patterns. The brain is designed to pick these up and use the information to protect itself, and this circumstance is no exception. When you see the effects of right and wrong first hand, the long and short term consequences to those actions, your brain picks up the patterns and trains itself to pick them up in your life.

That trains you to see how your actions affect the big picture.

I don't have kids. So, I can't judge those who do. But if and when I do have kids of my own, I hope I remember this lesson. I don't want to teach my children to follow rules; I want to teach my children to see the difference between right and wrong. To see the big picture.

Daily Stats:


  1. Exercised, stretched, meditated, and worked on my writing twice today.
  2. Wrote in my journal, stayed on budget, and wrote a poem today.
  3. Posted on my blog.
  4. Made my bed, did a load of dishes, and did laundry.
  5. Stayed on my diet.
  6. Cooked my dinner and breakfast and fixed my lunch for work.

1 comment:

  1. I'm sure if you do that you can be a heck of a mother. I was a really well behaved kid (for the most part) and most of that was related to knowing the difference between right and wrong. I knew that some of the things that happened to me hurt me, and were plainly the wrong things to do, so I didn't. Now I seek to help people, and do what's right.