People place importance on issues, ideas and objects in varying degrees. The fact that the new car has power windows may be more important to someone living in a major metropolitan area with it’s noise and smog levels, whereas someone living in a rural area may not need the quickness of a powered window. The importance of the luxury of the power is subjective to the need of the power. The same principle applies to rules and laws.
Anyone can place the importance of following a rule somewhere within the boundaries of their own need for that rule. Feeling remorse associated with the breaking of the rule is dependent on what is influenced by the act itself.
What then is the importance of following the rules?
Rules—for one reason or another—we often choose to follow when the consequence of not following the rule is something we are not prepared to face. You don’t place your hand on the stove top burner if it is hot. Why? Because you know that breaking that rule will cause you pain and suffering. Rules are there to protect you from the momentary lapses of common sense.
A four-way stop sign allows for the flow of traffic to be regulated so that no two vehicles will occupy the same space at the same time. If there is no one else at the four-way stop and you cruise through the intersection is it really such a big deal? You could argue that the law wasn’t even broken because no one was there to be affected by the governing law. But what if your action affected someone else and you were not even aware that there was that possibility?
I wondered this very question while sitting in the alternate juror spot during a short, but emotionally draining trial. The evidence presented to the jurors passed through the gauze-like filaments of the conscious mind to come to rest in the subconscious areas of the mind that often seek release in dreams. As an alternate juror, I wasn’t given the opportunity to express my opinion or thoughts on the evidence presented or the potential outcome of the possible verdict. I had to take my thoughts home with me. The dreams that came were vivid and brutal. For days after the trial, I awoke with the same thought: What could have been done to change the circumstances of the incident that led to the trial. What law was broken, what rule was not followed.
Following the law, though seemingly trivial when it appears that no one other than yourself will be affected, is the most important thing you can do as a member of the human community. If the law calls for you to be continually vigilant and observant, ever aware of your surroundings, then that is the law. Even if the law at any given time only extends to just one person, it is in place to protect everyone. Each life is worth that little inconvenience of having to follow the law. If that law means coming to a full stop at a stop sign even when no one else is around, someone somewhere is grateful and thankful that particular law exists. No act is inconsequential when you remember that you are a part of a community of like human beings. Cause and effect ripple out among the community and no one is immune to the negligence of others. How long do you think it takes for the dreams to lessen and the visions to dissipate?
What then is the importance of following the rules? No matter how small or great the amount of importance you place in following a rule or law, it is the consequence of not following that rule or law that will affect the rest of the community one way or another and put you in full view of the judgement of your peers.