Rules are Good Until They Apply to Me

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Like most of us, I don’t exactly find thrill in falling into long lines just to pay for something. A feeling of unproductivity creeps up whenever I get stuck in this endeavor. But unfortunately, I had to one day. I needed to pay my credit card bill and found myself in a bank with a spiraled, long queue of people waiting for their turn. Normally, this site would cause to me to balk and consider another time or place. But it was my due date and thought the sacrifice of waiting in line that day would pale in comparison to the sting of paying the late charges.

So I valiantly took my place in the line and waited.

Half an hour into the wait, a middle-aged guy arrived looking all in a hurry. He spent sometime surveying the situation. He was apparently looking for alternatives to be serviced faster and, of course, be ahead of others. He didn’t say anything but with one smooth, nonchalant movement, he cut into one portion of the line. He was now ahead of me! Amazing.

Still in amazement, I gathered myself to find the words to say to the guy as prompt to what he did. But before I could even mutter anything, another guy in front of me already had some words to say. Good thing no sparks flew as the guy who cut into the line decided to reposition himself right where he’s supposed to be. I just can’t help to notice the absence of shame or embarassment in his face as he was walking towards the end of the line. I mean, no traces of guilt nor regret can be seen. In fact, it’s more like anger and a feeling of ‘why-do-you-even-need-to-tell-me-that’ exuded from him. At this point, all focused back to the waiting game.

But just a few minutes after the queue incident, a loud sound came from one of the mobile phones. You see, in the Philippines (not sure in other countries), use of mobile phones are prohibited inside the bank for security reasons. I naturally looked towards the source of the sound. To my amazement, I saw the culprit already holding his phone ready to respond to the message he just received. This is, of course, a violation not to mention unfair. I’m sure that at that point in time, everyone was itching to use their phones as it has been almost an hour into the wait. Security called his attention but this didn’t seem to bother him. He continued using the phone and didn’t even bother to put it in silent mode. By the way, the culprit is the guy in front of me – the one who policed the other guy trying to cut into the line!

—-

The truth of the matter is that most of us Filipinos agree that rules should be established. In fact, we think that they are necessary and beneficial. But what I think separates us from countries like Japan, Korea, and, to an extent, even the US in terms of rules is they all have a healthy fear of them. They seem to conform their way of life and even their thought patterns to the rules governing them. Their plans are built bearing in mind the benefits and also the constraints of rules. I am not a lawyer but I believe most of our rules and laws are good, even some, brilliant. If this is so, then why do people I interact with agree with me that most Filipinos find rules are good until these rules apply to them?

For a time, I attempted to figure this out but the pursuit inevitably led me to determine the myriad triggers Filipinos have regarding this concern. So I decided to stop answering the ‘why’ but instead focus on possible solutions.

And while I recognize the obvious solution is stricter law enforcement, I believe the obvious is not the optimal in this case. As even though our government declares everything to be under their control, experience and the evening news tell me otherwise.

A heart for change is necessary for this solution. We need to recognize we can control and train our thought patterns; to clearly differentiate what is black, white, and even gray; to have the humility to accept correction with self-improvement in mind; and to exude love for country by becoming individuals who standby her rules when others have ignored them. Forget devising or waiting for ultra-heroic opportunities to show love for our country. Following her rules is just as impactful and noble.

Yes, this is wishful thinking perhaps bordering insanity — at least for the moment. But further ineludible frustration and chaos will follow if, as individuals, we don’t try. Remember, only Filipinos can make the Philippines great. So let’s go!

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