More About the Rules

I got some flack about the comments I made regarding the ‘rules’, about how some people feel as though they need to be told what to do every minute of their lives in order for them to get through the day without killing themselves or someone else, and about how we ‘lesser’ beings in the animal world have somehow managed to survive the millennia by following the one, basic, rule that makes the most sense—namely, Don’t Be Stupid.

I was a little surprised. I figured that if so many people felt the need to have the terms of their lives dictated to them by someone else, the least I could do to help would be to simplify things. Pare down the number of rules. Eliminate some of the redundancy and contradiction. I guess I was wrong.

People seem to love their rules. The more the better. And it seems the people who love them the most are the people who make them. The politicians and so-called intellectuals. Nothing seems to bring them more joy than telling other people what to do, when to do it, and where it can or can’t be done. These rule-makers call themselves ‘humanitarians’, ‘protectors of society’, ‘social activists’. There are a lot of these types in my neighborhood. My dad calls them ‘rich liberals’. I’m not sure what that means but from the look on his face and the tone of his voice when he says it I’m pretty sure I don’t want to be one.

Anyway, I started thinking about all of this and decided to do a little observational research. With so many rule-loving ‘rich liberals’ around, I thought it might be possible to gain some insight into why they feel compelled to be so bossy by watching them. See how they deal with the rules.

The first bit of behavior I was eager to investigate was the business of leashes. You know how I feel about them and you know about the big to-do at the park. Besides the me getting banned incident. You know, the cops and the tickets. Right. So, I was taking one of my morning walks, on the leash, minding my own business, when all of a sudden I was accosted by these two small, annoying, and, obviously, not very intelligent dogs. They came running right up to me, barking and growling. Off leash.

My dad flipped out. He started yanking on my leash with one hand and shooing the two little dumbbells away with the other. He must have thought I was going to eat one of them or something. Ridiculous. Or maybe not. I have to admit I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. I hadn’t thought it through. But, as I recall, I was doing some lunging and growling of my own, so his concerns were probably justified.

A minute later the owner of the two suicidal maniacs walked up and my dad let him have it. “Why the hell don’t you have your dogs on leashes?!” The guy got this very offended look on his face and bent down to corral the two Fifi’s, who were still acting like they were going to attack me, and replied, “My dogs are friendly.”

“Huh?” Dad and I said it at the same time. The guy had obviously not read my earlier post. He was clearly intent on being stupid. “Your dog seems to be the one with the problem,” he added, as though saying another dumb thing would somehow make the first dumb thing sound more intelligent. I lunged again. By that time I had thought it through and my intentions were clear, even to the rich liberal, who grabbed his two darlings and walked off in a huff.

The next group of rule makers I chose for closer observation was the bicycle bunch. For some reason the street I live on is one of their favorites. They can take it from the beach to the trails in the mountains behind us. Never mind that it’s a narrow canyon road on our end, to the point of being only a single lane for a stretch around two blind curves, with about a million cars in each direction every day. No worries. Share the road. The bicycle people got all sorts of rules made to ensure their rights and protect their safety.

So now it seems they have the right to ride in packs numbering in the thirties at seven in the morning, shouting back and forth to one another, and kicking at any car with the temerity to be on the same road at the same time. It also seems they have no obligation to stop at stop signs, stay in their bicycle lane, or get out of the way of traffic. Hmm. I’ve met a few of these people. Rich liberals one and all. OK, maybe they’re not all rich, but according to my limited understanding of the term ‘liberal’ they all seem to be of that ilk.

The car people aren’t any better. There are signs all over the place telling them where not to park but they insist on parking wherever they please. One of them even said as much when my mom pointed out to him that he was parking in a red zone, under a ‘NO PARKING’ sign, on one of the blind curves I was talking about. “I can park wherever I want,” he said smugly as he walked away with his young daughter to the school down the hill. Can’t even imagine what she’s going to be like when she grows up.

I had the data and all that remained was to analyze it and draw some conclusions. Admittedly, data analysis isn’t something my types are best known for, but I was committed to the task and wanted to see it to completion. Besides, it was really pretty simple. It boiled down to one simple fact—people like rules, but only when they apply to other people. Not to themselves. It was an amazing discovery. It also seems the more intellectual, the wealthier, the more a rule-making rich liberal one is, the less the rules apply.

So my neighborhood, lousy as it is with those kinds of people, is in reality an epicenter of chaos. All these social activists running amok doing whatever they want with no regard for the rules they so dearly love, and without the common sense to understand, let alone live by, the only rule they really need—Don’t Be Stupid. It’s a jungle out there. I wish.


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