Solving the Problem – Step One

I have a friend who appeals to the Constitution on a regular basis.

“It’s not explicitly in the Constitution, so we shouldn’t be doing it,” he argues. He’s upset with nearly all political candidates, simply because they aren’t holding to a strict Constitutionalist perspective.

I know people who appeal to the Bible (or insert your own holy book) on a regular basis.

“It’s not in the Bible, so we shouldn’t be doing it,” they argue. This gets expressed in all sorts of ways – the most amusing (to me) being a “Vote the Bible” bumper sticker. I wasn’t aware it was running for office.

I know workers who appeal to the rules on a regular basis.

“That’s not exactly the way the rules (or instructions) say to do it,” they argue, as I use control-V and control-C to cut and paste instead of the mouse and icons.

All of them miss the point.

The rules are not the goal. In each of these situations, there are well-defined goals. These goals – the principles of the Declaration of Independence, the Golden Rule, and performing a high-quality test – are the metric that all rules, all situations must be measured by. Rules for thier own sake lead to the empty bureaucratic red tape we all know and dread.

When people (including certain fictional pirates) state that “Rules are only guidelines”, this is what they mean. All rules, all ideologies exist for a point. That point, that reason, that goal is what matters – not the rules themselves.

The Constitution doesn’t mention equal rights – but the Declaration of Independence sure does. The Bible has been cited to support charity and war – but the latter clearly violates the Golden Rule. Our rules (and instructions) don’t mention keyboard shortcuts – but if it helps get the job done better and faster, why not?

In all of these, the principle is the same even as the outcome varies from trivial to earth-shaking.

What are your goals? What are our shared goals – as a city, state, country, or world?

Without that conversation, it doesn’t matter what rules we use, what seminars we attend, or what God we do or don’t pray to. We will be lost in the desert, wandering through red tape until we find (or make) direction and purpose once again.