Rules for humans and organizations and countries SJ Dodgson MJoTA 2013 v7n1 p0506
I love rules because they tell me what to do, how to behave.
In the small institute I direct, Medical Writing Institute, students and faculty are bounded by rules. We teach the rules that guide document writing, and the rules that guide getting jobs and contracts, and the rules that guide setting up companies.
I travel a lot. I have since my brothers and I were plucked out of Clayton Street Infants School in Manchester and put on a boat across the Irish Sea, landing in Belfast in plenty of time to gaze up at the heavens at Sputnik, the first human-manufactured object in space. Oh my! The stars exist so we can dream. So we can know that the impossible is possible. What a lesson to have learned at 6.
I am often asked where I would live if I could live anywhere. My answer: in the house that has been my base 30 years this week. In New Jersey, midway between New York City and Washington DC. Close to Philadelphia International airport.
Across the Delaware River from Philadelphia. Across the river from where the Declaration of Independence was made; across the river from where the American Constitution was written during a long hot summer gathering of the American intelligentsia.
The American Constitution lays down rules to live by. Highly workable, which is an impossible accomplishment considering racial and sexual apartheid was in full force when it was written, and continued for more than a century afterwards.
I live in a country with rules of law, rules of behavior, rules of accountability.
These rules translate into my having 4 children who are healthy, responsible adults, into the lights being on and into the absolute truth that anyone of strong physical and mental health with skills, drive and the ability to work, can do so.
Either by finding an employer and following the rules of employment, or starting a business and setting up its own set of rules. How many immigrant women from Africa and the Caribbean have I seen do this successfully. I am a member of an organization in Brooklyn, CACCI, which celebrates Caribbean achievements and works for prosperity in the Caribbean community daily. CACCI does what it says it does, follows the rules it set for itself 28 years ago.
Occasionally, often, rules are unworkable and countries and organizations
I have been part of organizations where the rules strangle any
movement, any attempt to do good.
am currently in an organization
which had user-friendly bylaws, which were inexplicably replaced 5 years
ago, adding an additional executive group and additional officers with
duplicate duties. The organization's officers have tripped over each
other, resulting in polite backing away so that it has stopped being an
and turned into a group that spends its time complaining about any
initiative by its members. It is now a women's supper
Changing the rules in countries or
organizations can be good for its citizens or members. This happens when
the original rules are invalidated by a dramatic change in
understanding of the rights, and limits, of each individual.
27, 1994 was the first election in South Africa when adults of all
races and both sexes were permitted to vote and is widely understood to
be the date when racial apartheid ended in South Africa and South Africa
started in a path to economic prosperity.
On that day, I was
watching the lines to vote on television in my house as I was preparing
for the birth of my 4th child, my only daughter. And this was in the
middle of those dreadful weeks when we were hearing about the genocide
in Rwanda that was turning the rivers red.
Nineteen years later,
my daughter is happier and healthier and doing better than I had any
right to expect; South Africa has a constitution they are justly proud
of; Rwanda shook off its official language (French) and its terrible
past with Claudine speaking on behalf of Rwandan orphans to everyone who
will listen who passes through New York, and I know that I live in the
best part of the best country in the world.
Because we have
rules. And we have activists in New York like Councilmember Jumaane D
Williams and District Leader Rodneyse Bichotte and Congresswoman Yvette
Clarke and Congressman Hakim Jeffries. In Philadelphia we have Dr
Alethea Hankins and Anne Gemmell. In South Jersey we have Eric Kipnis.
In North Carolina we have the Rev William Barber.
So many good
citizens doing everything they can to make sure the rules are followed,
or changed if they do not work for all of us.
Haddonfield, Camden County, New Jersey: a town which since May 1983 has had a single murder by
gunshot. A Sicilian woman shot dead her husband after he had decided
to move her out of her home and replace her with another woman. Goals to make every town and city into a Haddonfield click here.
James Kasongo makes the best chips in the world click here