Every Rule Is A Threat

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Most advanced animals have some form of governing structure; all are determined through a show of force. 

In many cases, animals fight physically or through demonstrations of vitality for leadership over their local community or the right to mate. In human species, governing leaders are those granted the power to use force against or excommunicate a member of a team.

That’s a harsh reality, but one each leader must accept as a part of his or her governing responsibility, because to ignore that harsh truth means that a leader is unaware of the motive behind their actions.

Yes, leaders should aim to inspire and enable others to act, but when one is elected to a position in a fraternity/sorority or hired to a position, that person needs to recognize that governing is also a part of the duty, and governing requires force.

Think about every rule or law you know to follow. All are, at the most basic level, a form of coercion.

It’s not that a person can’t physically drive faster than the speed limit, but to do so may mean that you are required to pay a fine. If you are going too fast or refuse to pay your fine, you will be escorted to court and jail. If you don’t concede, some form of force will be used to get you into a police vehicle.

That is the reality of laws and rules, without force, scratch that, without credible force, they are not worth following.

That’s why so many people break the speed limit, it is a law that we know is nearly impossible to enforce (with respect to our Bill of Rights) across the board. The slim chances of getting in trouble make the risk of speeding to arrive somewhere 2-5 minutes early worth the reward.

Consider that at the chapter level. If you work for a campus or fraternity/sorority, consider that at the headquarters level.

I wrote a post about how much of what we do to make Greek Life “better” also makes it more expensive/less accessible for students. What I didn’t harp on was that our rules are coercive by nature; they are a show of force.

Without credible force, [rules/laws] are not worth following

If a member misses too many meetings he or she is fined. If he or she refuses to pay the fine, what is the next step? It probably should be some level of expulsion or suspension, but few chapters seem to have the audacity to expel a “brother” or “sister” just because they failed to live up to the agreed-upon standards.

I often hear chapters complain that things are run like a business. Perhaps things are boring or monotonous, adjectives many associate with “work,” but few businesses can survive very long without a genuine purpose and without accountability.

Here’s a suggestion with regard to rules/laws:

If you are going to enact some sort of rule, ask yourself: Am I willing to expel someone for violating this rule and failing to accept the associated consequence. If not, re-consider the rule.

Any standard you set needs to be a standard, which means it is necessary for membership. If attending meetings or events is a rule, a standard of membership, than no one should be allowed to call themselves a “member” if they fail that standard.

You may suggest that fines, or community service, or house chores will work as punishment, but what if someone refuses to or fails to meet that punishment? Do you just let them go or stick to the standards? Does that mean your rules are irrelevant? Should you make irrelevant rules not worth enforcing?

The same can be applied when we discuss laws. Each and every law is a threat. If you fail to comply, or fail to comply with the punishment for failing to comply, a gun will likely be pointed at you and may even be fired. When we discuss how we want our government to govern, we need to ask ourselves, “Is this worth potentially shooting someone over?”

Keep your standards, and your rules, simple. You may be required to enforce them, and you better enforce them if you wish to consider yourself a “leader.”