Psychiatrist Lyle Rossiter wrote an article many years ago with the simple title: “Following the Rules.” He has noticed among his clients and among Americans, in general, an unwillingness to follow basic rules in various arenas. As he points out, there are consequences for breaking the rules in these five areas:
“In the care of our bodies, we have to obey the rules of physics, chemistry, and biology.” When we break these rules we get fat, we get sick, and we can even die. Moreover the epidemics of substance abuse and STDs also illustrate this principle of sowing and reaping.
“In marital and family relations, we have to follow certain rules of fidelity, thoughtfulness, and responsibility.” When we don’t, divorce and broken families result. Children are raised without both parents and grow up with emotional deficits or scars.
“In economic transactions, we have to obey the laws of supply, demand, price, and scarcity.” Failure to do so results in consumer debt and bankruptcy. At the national and international level rising debt and an economic crisis occur.
“In social behavior, we have to follow rules of honesty, fairness, mutuality, and courtesy.” If we disobey those rules, we have social turmoil. The coarseness of society is seen in profanity, vulgarity, and violence.
“In political transactions, we have to follow rules set out in our Constitution that protect individuals from harmful actions by governments.” Breaking those rules leads to political corruption and chaos.
If these are the rules, why do we fail to follow them? Rossiter believes it is because, “We are driven by sexual and aggressive impulses, by attachment and dependent impulses, by acquisitive and narcissistic impulses.”
These are the rules for success. Follow them, and you are likely to succeed. Break them, and you will probably fail.