Friday, June 16, 2006

Rules of Engagement

The much admired Fiona of Mental Meanderings fame has posted a nice topic for discussion.
She develops an interesting article on "breaking the rules" in the context of international relations. I'm a firm believer that all external relationships begin with your own "relationship with oneself", so with that in mind (and because she starred at a blank page (blankpaige?) for 1/2 an hour, I thought I'd add my tuppence worth......

Fiona says.....

I’ve spent the last half hour staring at a blank page and thinking about what I should write. There are so many things playing on my mind at the moment – world cup politics, Charles Haughey, Big Brother, an historic parades agreement in Northern Ireland but still the page remained blank because what I really want to talk about is this: why have we decided that rules are made to be broken? The theme, of course, runs through all of those issues – world cup referees are being extra-vigilant for unsporting behaviour, Charlie was a rule breaking rogue who many secretly loved in typical ‘fair play you boy’ Irish style, the Big Brother house is full of more back stabbing, bitching, rule breaking vindictiveness than the Dáil bar and does anyone really believe that all the rules historically made in Northern Ireland will ever be adhered to? The culture of rule breaking is one thing when it comes to individuals or (relatively) small-time rule breaking of this nature. The thing that worries me is how rule breaking is becoming a pervasive pattern in international relations.

Lovely post Fiona. And if i can take it back to your original point about why we think that rules are there to be broken. I'm a great woman for the sweeping generalisation. So with that warning in mind, I believe that our national psyche is to disrespect and subvert rules where possible.

We love a rogue (CJ), we want to beat the system (e.g. filling coin operated machines in Germany with Irish shrapnel many years ago) and we hate being constrained. Maybe its for historical reasons, maybe its a sign of our immaturity as a nation.

Whatever the reason, we generally don't value order and certainty. we laugh at people who queue, we invent Irish solutions to Irish problems and appreciate those other nations who are spontaneous like us. We allow isuses to become "business critical" before we act. DIRT, Statutory rape, Speeding......

Interestingly, you wouldn't expect such a nation such as ours to compose a constitution. Our rule-obsessed neighbours don't have a written constitution and so constantly re-appraise their position on many items.

But perhaps as we mature we realise the value and limit of value that rules provide. We are a nation that believes paedophilia is morally wrong but can't impeach our judge save on some technicality. Today, a District Judge can dismiss serious drink driving cases on the basis of a strict interpretation of rules.

Maybe the issue is one of what do we want rules to be - General guiding principles or rigid absolutes?


Blogger planetpotato said...

I think our Constitution is used these days as little more than an argumental crutch by those who cannot debate their points cogently. "Oh sure that would be the right thing to do, but the constitution says otherwise" or "well we'll have to write it into the constitution and finish any debate".

2:20 p.m., June 16, 2006  
Blogger fdelondras said...

Or 'well that would require a constitutional referendum which would be very divisive so we'll just take the easy route'

Have we forgotten that constitutional referenda are SUPPOSED to be divisive????

2:55 p.m., June 16, 2006  
Blogger Paige A Harrison said...

I'd say constitutional referenda should by definition by challenging. But if the issue is divisive then it probably isn't one that should be enshrined as an absolute in our constitution.

Torture should be outlawed because it is morally wrong. We should easily react agreement that there is no conceivable situation were torture can be justified. If this is the case, then this should be a constitutional right.

Of course, if we have to explicitly outlaw something by way of constitutional prohibition, it says something about our value system!

5:01 p.m., June 16, 2006  
Blogger Fence said...

I don't thin we do actually support people who break the rules. Rather we see nothing wrong in bending certain rules, the problem arises over defining what the difference is between bending and breaking.

1:53 p.m., June 19, 2006  

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