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  • Writer's pictureJayna Newbold

Rules: Made to Be Broken?

Dear Hearts,

I certainly hope all of you are well and thriving on this beautiful almost-summer day. It's one in which we're all just about ready to throw caution to the wind and bust out of the house, yes?

But of late, there have been so many rules, sometimes we wonder what is best?

My mom and dad had few rules when I was growing up. Their parenting style included questions, wisdom, and modeling strong critical thinking skills. Their "yes" meant absolutely!, and their "no" meant absolutely not! -- but with ample forethought and discussion between the two of them.

However, one steadfast rule they solidly enforced was this: No name calling.


Now, my siblings and I -- being kids -- were not immune to letting an occasional "idiot" or "stupid" fly out of our mouths in a moment of irritation. But if either of our parents heard it, we were in trouble.

As a youngster, I didn't see why this was such a strongly enforced decree. What's the big deal? Everyone mutters "moron" about kids who say or do something dumb. Not us. We weren't allowed.

Raised with encouragement to question, I wonder about a lot of rules in our society. I'm not one who determines that rules are made to be broken, but I do wonder why we don't question them more often and with a wider lens -- especially antiquated laws which should require a review much more often than they are.

Dear Hearts: Just yesterday, as I watched footage of a police officer kneel on a man's neck which resulted in the death of the already subdued handcuffed prisoner -- with three other officers standing watch at their comrade's side -- I became physically ill at the sight, followed by ugly crying tears of grief over the horrific act, and for the family and community of the deceased.

Through brim-filled watery eyes, I began to think about rules -- and protocol. Is kneeling on a person's neck even an official procedure? If so, why? After a few seconds of online research and responses from friends who are in law enforcement, I discovered that although a knee to the neck is sometimes taught in police academies as a method of subduing a person who is resisting arrest, it is not common. If it is utilized, the rule is to cease as soon as the person is restrained and / or has trouble breathing.

So, perhaps the rule itself is well-intended. This, then, brings us to the rule breakers.

Side note: Another wise parenting act by my mom and dad was the declaration, "When we tell you to do -- or not to do -- something, immediately obey. If you think something is unjust or don't understand, you can always appeal. We can discuss it. But at the time we tell you, do what we say. . . someday, your life may depend upon it."

Strict, but fair. I found my parents to be true to their word. So, although I sometimes challenged their rules through long discussions -- not heated arguments as I was taught to maintain a tone of respect -- I followed their rules. I didn't break them.

I wonder, then, why these four particular cops breached protocol? Ignorance? Hate? White privilege? As a parent, I had my own pet statute about the word, "hate". My kids weren't allowed to say it. It wasn't unlikely for one of them to slip every now and then, saying "I hate that guy" in response to an irritating quality. I always responded, "You don't 'hate' anybody. You don't have to like or even tolerate what he says or does -- but you don't 'hate' him."

As for white privilege, I am in agreement with the following wise words of a friend of a Facebook friend, Daniel Kirby, who writes:

Everyone has some form of privilege. I'm male and white. I'm former foster youth and my first memory of life is someone breaking a beer bottle on my head at the age of two. We all have to look at this in a well rounded way.

Here's what I know: It's not about whether or not you have privilege, it's about a) Noticing when someone else has less and helping them out, and b) What you do with that privilege (not entirely the same thing).

Focus on what you can do for the people around you who struggle in areas you have it easy and you'll go a long way towards making a positive difference with the gift you've been given.

By the way, there are Christians with Christ privilege, and those without. The same principal applies.

Daniel's above quote brings this scripture to mind: "To those who have been given much, much is required." - Luke 12:28

Even though I questioned the validity of the "no name calling" rule as a sprout, by the time I was in middle school, I realized the level of ignorance displayed by people who resorted to doing it on a regular basis. As a teenager and young adult, the connection between hate and name calling was made. Before I became an adult, I realized the act was a matter of the heart.

Ah! So, mom and dad's rule wasn't so baseless after all . . .even though I didn't understand at one point.

Perhaps if the simple instruction of no name calling or hating, and to use whatever privilege they had in life to uplift their fellow man had been enforced for these four aforementioned cops when they were young, our country wouldn't be distressingly mourning the pointless, painful, and undignified death of a man today.

Dear Hearts: As you face this beautiful almost-summer day, throw caution to the wind, and bust out of the house, please follow rules. They're not there to be broken. Question, yes. . . always. Change? Perhaps. But for now, follow them.

Your life may depend upon it.

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