Certainty, Rules and People

We would all like to believe that there are absolute certainties. Cabinetmaking, a practical art, has them. However, the certainties in life have nothing to do with how people think and react. Certain stimuli seem to encourage similar repetitive responses on basic levels, but beyond those, we never really know how others will respond in any given situation.

However, when it comes to institutions, which are essentially extensions of people, there is a rigidity that defies belief. For example, there was a New York City club which decided in a vote to cut off ties with a London club that did not allow women in the club unattended. The vote caused rancor and discord and apparently, some members are still not talking to each other.

On the other hand, rules are rules and have to be obeyed. But why do we need rules? In part because of our unpredictability and the desire to mitigate certain behavior but also because we believe that people respond well to rules. Colonel Qaddaffi has had 42 years to believe in this concept, but he is learning that the rules are a two way street. Sooner or later, some of our own Republicans and Democrats might cotton on to that lesson.

But politics aside, why do institutions need rules? They, too, worry about unwholesome activities on the part of their members which seems oxymoronic, but on the other hand they wish to differentiate themselve to other similar institutions.The English call this tradition, others might label it elitism. All I can say is that I agree with Groucho Marx’s comment. “I don’t care to belong to any club that might have me as a member.”

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