I am interested in rules and the extent to which they do or don’t encourage us to act well. On a recent trip to Bali it was noticeable the number of western tourists who were smoking cigarettes in restaurants and coffee shops. It is not illegal to do so in Bali and yet the same people I suspect would refrain from smoking in similar situations when back home. And is that because they recognize that, apart from harm to the smoker, smoking is bad for the health of others and unpleasant for them? Or would they refrain simply because of a law? These same people carry with them this awareness in Bali. So why were they smoking there? Because others were and therefore it made no difference? Because ‘what the heck! I’m on holidays!’ Or because it was liberating not to have to obey yet more rules as laid down by, at times, seemingly rule-crazy (litigation crazy?) societies? Simply because they could? I dunno. All or none of these reasons. Rules…and where they fit…and how useful are they to us as a society? Are there good rules and bad rules?

The following comment is from Wesley Fryor (IT whizz, internet amazing guy and world’s most prolific blogger) 14th September 2008. His comment is not about smoking but is about the value or not, of rules in governing behaviour:

‘I’ll repeat again what I say repeatedly in presentations and workshops about Internet safety and online social networking: There is NOT a computer hardware or software solution, or a policy solution which can ever stop everyone from intentionally looking for inappropriate materials online in a computer lab, library, or other location. Filtering solutions are needed, but ultimately what is most needed are conversations, relationships, and practices which encourage perceptions of accountability for online as well as off-line behaviour.’

Hmmm…conversations, relationships? Interesting yes.

Comments ( 2 )

  • Scott hammond

    Hi Pete,
    family values and beliefs are important especially when we look are rules whether governed by law or families. I recently (over a period of 2 weeks) educated my 4 year old daughter on the rules of stop signs and red lights. I found it interesting that i used a family value that, ‘lives whether yours or others are precious’ and if we didn’t stop and obey the rules then there could be serious consequences and how it would impact on the families of those involved…thats the short version and she actually understood!! This leads me 2 make the asumption that in a time of economic paridise (boom) and the need to join in can put enormous pressures on families and often lead to neglect or misplaced values and beliefs. For example: we will purchase a mobile phone for a child and although there are rules governing the use we still allow our children to put themselves in debts that have been reported as high as 7k.
    Have we as parents which aloud the flexibilty and no cosequence approach in our effort to compete with the Jones made young people more enclined to break rules?
    And what impact will the current financial crisis have on these values and beliefs?

  • Hi scott,
    thanks for posting something on the site. And for heavens sake..I dont know the answers to the enormous questions you ask!

    Obeying rules just because they are rules seems like a bad idea. I would like our own kids to think about why the rule exists and then work out their response…your value of lives being precious seems like one fairly responsible place to start.

    Have things changed and what are we encouraging in our kids? You work with young people Scott, and some are doing extraordinarly well…others…and you refer to this..sometimes show a worrying…what’s in it for me? approach..has our world created this way of thinking? And then there is also sometimes a view of …’I’ll manage the restaurant but I sure as hell don’t wanna work in the kitchen!’ can be seen. There is some research around which suggests young people’s expectations are out of whack with what is likely to actually happen…is this part of the bigger picture stuff of self- responsibily, regulated ‘responsibility’…changing views of what we are due and what we owe to others…simply because we exist on the same planet.

    And then of course my 3 year old, in the middle of me writing this response…takes me outside to show me that the strawberries are red! And he eats one…and shares it with me.

    So I dont know if all is welll…but the small moments make a big difference dont they. Including the BBQ I had with you and your family a little while ago…sitting on a (sort of) hilll and watching the sun go down at the 240 k horizon.
    Take care

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