Rules and EntitlementJun 19, 2012 Write an essay on this topic.
Popular Products in BooksThe Bottom Line A sticky situation at the Rodeo made me think about how we need rules and laws to get along and for society to function.
We currently have a visitor from Sweden a 17 year old girl with the name Natalie. She is a relative of mine and incidentally one of Sweden’s and even Europe’s best women in Karate. Last Saturday we took her to the Stockyards Rodeo in Fort Worth. I bought front row seats for one of the best boxes in the arena because Natalie does not come over often and we wanted her to see the show as well as possible and to be able to take good photos if she wanted to.
However, when we arrived at our seats we found a woman with a baby who was sitting in one of our seats and she had her bags spread out on the rest of our seats. We just sat down in the empty row behind her. Then my wife told me that is our seats. I answered, yeah but she has a baby I’d hate to ask her to leave. Then my wife said, well baby or not, when our kids were babies we would not go sit in other people’s seats would we? I want you to say something Thomas. As I am starting to sweat trying to come up with something to say to the lady that did not sound unfriendly I was hoping the lady would have heard our conversation, but apparently she did not. Well, actually, as it turned out, she more likely was ignoring it.
That’s when my wife said more loudly let’s see if Thomas is going to say something? As I was working up my courage to say something my wife leaned forward holding the tickets in her hand and she said to the lady “excuse me mam but our tickets are for the row that you are sitting in”. The lady answered “we are a group and we have this entire box”. We looked across the isle and saw six more people on the left side of the box. All of them remained silent even though they must have heard us. My wife continued; no you don’t have the entire box, look at the ticket numbers, those are our seats, and we paid for them. However, the woman answered sarcastically with a question, and you expect me to move? She clearly was not going to move.
Instead of saying something I simply left to go find a staff member and I did. I explained the situation and told him that I was not interested in a confrontation and I did not want to force a woman with a baby to move but perhaps he could find another front row for us. He disagreed. He said that we should sit in our assigned seats, that the lady should move, and that he would take care of it. Fixing it any other way may not be possible and is going to lead to a mess. He verified the seating on our tickets, asked for her tickets, which she did not have, and then he asked her to leave. She argued with him and said the same thing she told us, that they were a group that had bought most of the box, and that they should have the box, and that she was not interested in moving. He just raised his voice and told her to move since it was not her seats, and then she finally moved, and we sat down in the front row. Her “group” did not say anything but they were clearly not on our side.
Soon the people whom she had held the seats for arrived and they sat down in the row behind us, somewhat dismayed but nothing happened. A few minutes later the Rodeo staff member came back with free snacks and sodas for us as an apology for what had happened to us. The rest of the people in the box naturally did not get anything and they were clearly not happy with us. We could have shared the free snacks but their unfriendly attitude towards us did not make that an easy option.
Well, the Rodeo had reserved seating and they had rules and they had staff members to enforce it. Then I started thinking. Should they not have rules? Should they not have enforced them? How enjoyable would the Rodeo have been if you could sit anywhere and there were no rules? Not even a first come first served rule. How about if people just showed up and reserved as many seats as they wanted for their buddies and imaginary friends, whether they paid for the seats or not, and then they fought it out in case of conflict. What if people were allowed to use violence and weapons to grab seats? Well I would not go and see the Rodeo if that was the case and I think the Rodeo would soon have to close. The rules implements a sense of fairness and they make it possible for the Rodeo to continue operating.
There are people who feel that it is right to rebel against rules. Not just some rules that they feel are unfair but rules in general. Rules are just oppression and nonsense, rules are against freedom. They want the law of the jungle and nothing else. They want anarchy. However, rules are everywhere in society because we actually need rules to be safe and prosperous. What if there were no rules against rape, murder, theft, etc?
Well, there are some “primitive societies” that have very few and simple rules. In the case of conflict with neighboring tribes they just duke it out. An example is the Yanomami Indians in South America and the tribes in New Guinea. As it turns out they live extremely violent lives. A third of the men die in warfare and the women get used to being raped and beaten from the age of ten. Despite the high violent death rate among men even more women are murdered. People who study Stone Age societies in the rest of the world report the same thing. The tribal societies that existed before the rise of civilization were extremely violent.
Anarchy and lawlessness is not freedom. Laws keep people with a strong sense of entitlement from taking everything. Laws keep violent sociopaths from making life hell for the rest of us. Naturally laws and rules can be used as tools of oppression. That is especially true in authoritarian and totalitarian societies. However, for the most part the laws and rules that we have in liberal open societies are necessary for the well being of all of us. In fact some rules and laws that we in general agree on can keep tyrants from enacting tyrannical laws. That is our constitutional rights and our legal right to vote. With this essay I did not want to primarily argue what laws and rules we should have, or how many rules we need, but I wanted to acknowledge that we do need some rules and laws and some enforcement of these rules in our society for our own well being.
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