When we follow rules, but others don’t

I came across an eight-year old kid, Sunny, who came home, storming with rage. He flung his bag with unprecedented force on the sofa, then kicked his shoes off to fall in the middle of the room. He was clearly disturbed about something.

A gentle probe after he had freshened up and eaten, revealed the story of an unsavoury incident in school. He saw a boy twirling the pigtails of a girl, which she did not appear to like. Our knight-in-shining-armor came to her rescue and bashed up the errant boy. In retaliation, Sunny was abused and blamed for arrogance, ‘being the son of a bureaucrat’.

Sunny’s outpour was on the following lines:

“You taught me that girls should be respected. But, girls (angry gesture)! She did not even bother to say Thank You. And the teacher just told us not to create a ruckus in the class. I WAS DOING THE RIGHT THING! I’m not a hooligan to be thrashed. What is wrong in being the son of a bureaucrat?”

Sunny is not an unruly brat, but felt his light being dimmed. His expectations from the world had not been met. At home, he was taught to follow a certain value system, but the response from the world outside was not encouraging. His gallantry did not receive a positive response, to ensure reinforcement of the values.

It reminded me of Dominique Francon’s testimony in court, in the epic work “Fountain Head” by Ayn Rand –

“When you see a man casting pearls without getting even a pork chop in return—it is not against the swine that you feel indignation. It is against the man who valued his pearls so little that he was willing to fling them into the muck and let them become the occasion for a whole concert of grunting.”

One doesn’t have to be a writer or a fantasy character to feel this indignation. All of us do … at some point in life.

What do we do, when we follow the rules, but others don’t?

  • Abandon the principles as redundant.
  • If you can’t beat them, join them…
  • Be at pains to prove that your stance was right.
  • Express your sentiments of feeling hurt and let down, and let it go.
  • Continue to walk on the chosen path, irrespective of the response or results.

Our Little Good Samaritan Sunny needs to understand that

  • others have not been exposed to the same noble thought process, which he had the privilege to access.
  • those few people in school do not represent the whole world.
  • his example might be followed by a few others, who have come to believe in it.
  • he should look inwards to see if there was a sense of satisfaction in ‘doing it right’.
  • he should expect more of these instances in life, and stay prepared for it.
  • he should look out for examples, where the right acts have been rewarded.
  • short-term success and popularity will beckon and lure at every point, but he needs to keep the long term in view.
  • The world will find the weirdest reasons to downplay your achievements, and hurl illogical abuses to degrade you, but those should not be allowed to stick. Time will expose the wrongdoers.
  • The bystanders are watching mutely, out of fear. It is not necessary that they disapprove of your actions.
  • The bully’s identity is well….. that of a bully. And that is not where he aspired to be.

My choice would be to take the high road, and move on. What will be yours?

17 thoughts on “When we follow rules, but others don’t

  1. Oh yes. I have these conversations with my two youngest, 11 and 5. They don’t understand why others aren’t kind, why they are bullied, why they don’t follow the rules, the list doesn’t end. I approach it in a similar fashion-not everyone has been raised/exposed the same way. I tell my kids they know what is right cause they feel it. As for the others, we pray for them. I tell them they may be the only example of kindness/Jesus those kids get to see. It doesn’t make their behavior ok-but it makes my kids’ shine.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. This was a beautiful and eloquent post! There is so much truth in your words. The world can be unkind and unfair which is a difficult and sad lesson for children to learn without becoming jaded. The choices you present for how to react to this are very hopeful. Thank you for writing this!

    Liked by 1 person

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