By Lana Turnbull
When you think about it, from the time we can crawl, there are rules we have to live by. They may start out small, but the more things we learn to do, the more rules we have to learn about how not to do them. There are some really practical ones like, don’t touch the flame, don’t run with scissors, and don’t play in traffic, that are meant to keep us safe. Then there are rules to keep somebody else’s things safe like, don’t throw the ball in the house (Mom created that one), don’t use Dad’s tools without permission, and never touch anything at Grandma’s house. As we get older and bigger our rules get bigger too – don’t take something that isn’t yours, don’t drive without a license, don’t hurt anybody on purpose and for your own good, don’t pick on anybody twice your size.
I know I left out a lot of really important rules, and I don’t mean to trivialize these or any other rules that keep us on the societal straight and narrow. If you think about it most of the laws on the books (law is just the grownup word for rules), all boil down to one of the first things we learn in life: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. It turns out that rule is a basic tenet of almost every organized religion on the planet. If you turn it around and look at it another way, it probably covers every other rule we have ever learned: Don’t do to anyone else what you wouldn’t want done to you.
Thirty years ago Robert Fulghum, wrote a best selling book that puts life’s most important lessons and the rules that guide them into perspective, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. He was right then and just seems to get more right every year since. Rules are an irritating necessity for civilization. We’ve been trying to perfect them from the moment Moses brought the stone tablets down the mountain, to the Magna Carta and the Constitution. The funny thing is, if we all had learned the golden rule everything else would just fall into place (with maybe one exception…never, ever wear white after Labor Day).