Playing by the rules

I’m working on a writing job currently that has lots of rules, including a long list of words one is forbidden to use. Why? It’s a rule, that’s all. Rules are rules. We stop there.

Rules seem to be necessary in society. Wherever three or more are gathered, there the rules shall be. It’s the basis of civilization, the only way we know to approach peaceable life together.

Rules are usually established by wise leaders, who set down these maxims for good reason. But the hoi polli who must live by them soon forget their reason for being, and simply accept them as rules and therefore indisputable. The human propensity for fear keeps us in the thrall of rules and dictums from on high. For the most part, we let these forces do our thinking for us.

At some point, though, you can step back from the rules. You can consider what your own judgment is, apart from givens you’ve been force fed. You can make the conscious decision to adopt or reject the rules. In a way, that’s what branding is all about: communicating to others your own well-considered set of rules and regs. It’s certainly at the core of innovation, where not being bound by rules is the first practice.

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