Living by Principles instead of by RulesBen Lovejoy, 2004
After sending his son to private school for eight years, Ben Lovejoy and his wife took a sharp LEFT turn and plunged head-first into unschooling. A private school and military college (The Citadel) graduate with a military background and an orderly sense of "the way things should be done," Ben seems—at first—like an unlikely candidate for the unschooling lifestyle. A full-blown convert, he will share his journey into unschooling with you if you just ask. When he's not riding his bike, Ben sells pharmaceuticals, and is an active officer in the Air National Guard.Many of us grew up with rules—both in our parents' or grandparents' homes and in the schools that we attended. After leaving our homes, we then followed rules that our careers expected us to follow; and we added more rules when we chose our partner and had our own children. At some point, we decided to change our lives. We started considering a better way—a better way to parent, a better way to help our children learn, a better way to live. When we decided for that better way, some of us forgot that the rules we'd grown up with and had learned to live with were still there, lurking in the background like an old burden yet to be faced. When confronted with an unfamiliar situation or one we hadn’t seen for some time, we automatically opted for what was familiar—the rules that we'd grown up with.
When we learned how to ride a bike, we thought that first way that we learned was the only way that a bike could be ridden. There was just no other way. Having ridden over 10,000 miles of roads and over 50 bike trails in the past six years, I can tell you that my initial experience on a bike was nothing like I've had as an adult. As with my cycling, I've realized there is more than one way to live our lives. Living life based upon principles is a better way for me than living by rules. It's more honest, respectful, truthful, and makes much more sense. Principles have allowed me to figure out that music is a journey and not a destination that ends when I reached a certain age. Principles have allowed me to realize that riding a bike is a means and not an end. Principles have allowed me to think further about better ways to parent than using someone else's rules. Principles, in short, do not limit me the way that rules once did.
I've included the whole list of rules that I referred to during my discussion at the conference. Next to them are principles that relate to those rules and that can be incorporated into discussions and decisions into our lives and with our families. There are other rules just like there are other principles. These are just some of the common rules that many of us grew up with and may have carried forward. The important thing is to consider rules that we want to challenge and make changes where we can. The key is to think and not to just react. If you must keep rules in your home, make sure that you do so only after you ask yourself whether the rule makes sense to your situation. Using rules that others told you to use forces you and your children to live in the same mental void that you felt as a child and perhaps even into adulthood. At the very least, try to uphold things of principle and not to hold on to the threats that rules really are.
Question the rules, and question the principles as well. But once you and your family have chosen the principles important to the family, you'll find that no one will want to change or break or get around them like they will rules. Principles sustain a life; rules will constrain that very same life. I think the singer realizes this; unfortunately, it sounds to me as if it may be too late for her to do anything about it.
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