Why do we need rules?
Society has a crucial role to play for what we are, what we do, and how we get what we want. We cannot do whatever we feel like, or our mind desires to-we are stopped or restricted by rules.
According to Evolutionary Psychology, people today still seek those traits that made survival possible in earlier times- an instinct to fight for survival when threatened, a drive to trade information and share secrets. Human beings are, in other words, hardwired. You can take the person out of the Stone Age, but you cannot take the Stone Age out of the person.
We possess powerful share of animalistic instinct that is required to be tamed with the help of rules I suppose! If we are put in a situation with no rules to follow, most of us might be doing the things we should not have done. For instance, take a simple scenario of traffic lights. It is there to guide us and to prevent accidents. However, if traffic lights are not working one fine day, then, do we wait for our turn without any traffic light to guide us? Everybody tries to rush from all directions leading to chaos. Nobody wants to wait until traffic police arrive to control the situation manually. Only a few might do what is expected of them as socially and morally responsible people. Why is it so?
Many times, it is noticed that when there are no rules, most of us are unable to regulate ourselves intrinsically. Still, few of us might be able to do the right thing even when no one is watching, or no rules to follow. Their strength might lie in gaining motivation intrinsically. When we can regulate ourselves through internal mode, there is more likelihood of taking responsibility for our actions. Such people make conscious decisions to do the right thing almost all of the times-rules or no rules. Their behaviour is not driven or motivated by a deficiency but by a desire for personal growth.
People also have moral values. The norms for moral actions may vary to some extent from individual to individual and from culture to culture. Although some predictable norms such as not to kill, not to steal, and to honour parents are widespread and perhaps universal. Nevertheless, value judgments concerning human behaviour are seen in all cultures. This universality raises two related questions: whether the moral sense is part of human nature, one more dimension of our genetic data, and whether ethical values may be products of biological evolution rather than being given by religious and other cultural traditions.
We will be doomed if there are no biological laws. Once we put our foot in this universe, we anticipate following said and unsaid rules-starting from reaching physical, social and cognitive milestones in time as a given norm or standard. Jean Piaget offered four stages of cognitive development inspired by his observations of his daughter and own nephew. His contemplation convinced him that a child’s mind is not merely smaller than an adult mind. Rather, children think differently. There are stages through which a child goes to achieve age-appropriate cognitive development. The four stages are as follows-Sensorimotor stage: birth to 2 years, preoperational stage: 2 to 7 years, concrete operational stage:7 to 11 years and formal operational stage:12 and up.
So, we know that there are norms for cognitive development, for walking, sitting, speaking, and many more to name. Any deviation from the norms is observed as an indicator of an underlying problem.
Can we imagine a life of our children without rules? It would be chaos. Rules are pivotal to our successful existence as a human species. Without such norms, there might be complete anarchy. Everyone would do whatever they want to, without worrying about any consequences. Rules instill an acceptable amount of fear to make us behave in a socially and morally responsible manner. Without morality, social life is nearly impossible. People care about what others think of them, their reputation, and their social status. Some people care about doing the right thing while others might care due to fear about what will happen after death, to their soul or spirit.
I acknowledge that a section of us demands a less formalized society – A society without cultural, religious norms, without government, where individual freedom takes precedence, where anarchy itself is the rule.
I would say rules per se are not a problem. Rules make us what we are as responsible social beings. However, the problem lies in those rules which are not justified- which are not made taking into account the well-being of every section of the society-be it the wealthy or the poorer section of the society. One recent such rule that I felt is not compatible with every section of society, comes to my mind, is related to vaccination drive.
We have a smartphone, laptops, and easy access to all the schemes and drives announced by the government. But what about those who are not fortunate enough to have the liberty to carry a smartphone or are educated enough to find out what going on?
My house help carries no mobile. Her husband has a phone but not smart enough. When I asked her if they have registered for vaccination? She said we do not have an Aadhar card or any other document to prove our identity. As they have shifted recently, they do not have proper documents. Her husband works as a guard. This rule of mandatory Aadhar or proof is making vaccination drive unreachable for many.
I absolutely respect our Prime Minister Modi Ji, but here I felt this rule is not appropriate. I know it might have been done to collect proper data, but what is the use if one section of the society is not reached, due to mandatory rule of Aadhar or documents to prove identity. In case, it is a must, then why not organize a camp for those who don’t have any documents? It would help to identify and make their document on the spot followed by vaccination.
Instead of looking for a rule-free society, we might be more at peace if we accept the norms of society and look for solutions amicably, in case of any discomfort.
It might have been observed innumerable times, that people did not wait for their turns when expected- leading to fear of stampede, before the rule of making a queue emerged- queue in schools, queue while collecting tickets, in amusement parks, for doctor’s appointments, even for a dinner reservation.
We do not have the strength of gorillas, the teeth of tigers, the speed of cheetahs, or the venom of snakes. Nevertheless, for ages, we have taken over the planet — only because of our beautiful minds! We are what we are because of the higher functioning cognitive ability. It allows us to analyse the situation and generate a set of rules/norms collectively to make life easier for everyone.
We accept it or not, we like it or not, but the fact is that we are hardwired to follow rules. We cannot exist without rules, as a civilized society.