Rules can be funny, stupid, at times even annoying. No wonder, some say: “Rules must be broken. If it is for a good cause, do not hesitate...” But there are others who caution: “No. Rules should never be broken. They bring into our lives a sense of right and wrong, order, and discipline.”Far from these contrary views, it is the logic behind rule-making that surprises me. And it is not without reasons.Recently, I happened to call on my family physician. As usual, I followed the instruction at the entrance of his clinic: “Please remove your footwear.” The doctor sent me over to the pathological laboratory nearby for a blood test. There, a rather unusual instruction greeted me: “Do not remove your sandals/shoes.” I read it a second time. Although confused, I decided not to think about it any more.That brought to my mind a funny incident. Years ago, I had to shift to another city, and had to take a flat on rent. The first thing I noticed as I entered the premise, was a series of stickers. Each one had an instruction for the tenants and the visitors.The one at the entrance read: “Do not leave the gate open.” Closing the gate, I walked in. “Do not pluck flowers”, read the second sticker. As a nature lover, I only knew to enjoy and admire their beauty, never to pluck them. A series of instructions followed: “Do not throw litter around”; “Do not smoke”; “Do not chew pan and spit”; “Do not play music loud.”Thoroughly amused, I met the Secretary of the housing society and asked 'tongue-in-cheek': “So many dos and don'ts there! Are you sure, you haven’t missed any?” The secretary said earnestly: “Well. We could have. If you have noticed any, let us know. We will have them put up immediately.”Rule-making gives those in authority, ample opportunities to wield their power. Assuming a 'larger-than-life' demeanour, they ignore the purpose, logic and realism behind the rules they conceive. Naturally, we are tempted to challenge them, at times jumping the traffic signal at a deserted junction or filing a 'shortened' tax return because of a clause perceived as unfair. Yet, we do not attempt to break free. Perhaps that was why E F Schumacher said:
"It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage
to move in the opposite direction."