Rules are intention not instruction

Round things make up a square

There is an famous Zen saying, “Form is Emptiness and Emptiness is Form.” Everything is changing all the time. Our world. Our bodies. Our minds. How do we keep it together?

Rules. Rules are designed to bring order to the chaotic communication that happens in any meeting of fragile, fickle humans. They help take the emotion and the out of the discussion. Rules are a delicate vessel to hold corrosive conflict. Love them or hate them, we all still need them.

But rules can change as well. They are ultimately empty too. Rules are only good if people follow them. And to make sure people follow them, they have to respect the values behind them. Values like: fairness, civility, understanding, selflessness, generosity, openness and duty to the larger group.

Rules aren’t about what you “can” and “cannot” do. They are ultimately about what you “should” and “should not” do to manifest these values. Bending or strictly applying the rules in the interest of one party or the other is not in the interest of the larger group. That’s in the interest of the party only.

If we want to live in a civil society then we need to respect the rules of debate and the open-hearted values that underlie them. Without fair rules – there is no respect – just empty words.