Sometimes, it’s easy to think that the rules we encounter are the ‘enemy’ of common sense, and are just there to impede our progress at every turn … but an encounter with an Italian gentleman reminded me that rules don’t have to be a problem as long as you don’t look at them in purely black and white terms…
It was during a recent cruise that ‘She Who Must…’ and I stopped in Livorno in Italy and ventured forth towards Pisa (of leaning tower fame) and then over to Florence with the intention of learning as much about these two cities as we could in the shortish time available. To do this we had the benefit of a witty, charming and intelligent local chap called Ignatius (English spelling) who ensured we didn’t miss a thing … and at the same time also introduced me to the concept of ‘Italian Common Sense’
“Tim,” Ignatius mused as we wandered around the sights, “If I see a pretty girl walking past – I look at her, it’s just common sense … or if the wine is very fine or the food is particularly good … why would you not eat and drink … it is common sense.”
I could find no flaw in that … or with his observation that “You are driving down a long straight road, and there is nothing else in sight except a Stop sign at a crossroads, you can see for miles and there is no traffic coming in any direction. Now, the Americans, the Germans … even you English, Mr Lowe … you would stop, even if there is no reason to. But if nothing is coming – why would you stop? It is just common sense not to do so, is it not?”
As somebody who has sent more than one clipboard waving flunkey away with a flea in their ear myself … we of course got along famously … and I was wondering exactly how we could all apply a little of Ignatius’s ‘Italian Common Sense’ to improve our lot…?
Now, before I get a deluge of finger waving emails containing the phrase ‘flagrant disregard’ I should point out that, yes, rules are important when they serve a purpose and keep people safe … but I’m sure you’ll agree there a very few rules that you could consider to be applicable 100% of the time..
This is because, often lost amongst all the ‘Thou Shalt Not’ that gets put in our way, is the actual reason why a rule was made in the first place … and it’s knowing what that reason is, that happens to be the important bit of a rule – not just obeying it blindly
So, what we often get is people with no imagination following rules for their own sake and other people, with even less imagination than that, making sure they are being followed, all without the vaguest inkling why any of it’s being done (think: “place your liquids in this plastic bag and no you cannot put those of the person travelling with you in the same bag…”)
What you and I should look for is the reason behind the rule, see if is applicable to our own situation, and make our own decision based on that … to do anything else makes about as much sense as not eating good food, not drinking fine wine or pulling up at a stop sign when there is clearly nothing coming for miles.
Don’t just think this applies to the kind of rules dreamed up by people with clipboards … for us it applies every bit as much to the arbitrary rules we impose upon ourselves and are usually enforced by those we speak to on a daily basis … rules like “I can’t do this because – I’m too young or old, rich or poor, know nothing or have been ‘bombarded’ by too much information…”
I think I can safely say that without exception we’ve all been told at some point that we’ll ‘never get anywhere’ or were going to ‘fail dismally’ by plenty of well meaning souls who know ‘how it all works’ … but believe me when I say it’s those who tend to apply a bit of ‘Italian Common Sense’ to the situation that seem to do quite well for themselves…
Until Next Time,