I was doing the supper dishes a while ago and was watching the 6:00 news as I worked–if I sit to watch the news at that time, it becomes the 6:00 snooze. Anyway, one item concerned a complaint an individual was making about a funeral or rather his experience associated with the funeral. I gave this more than the usual half-focus since as a pastor in small, aging rural communities, funerals are a bigger part of my life than that of most other people except for funeral directors.
According to the news report, he and his family arrived at the funeral location a bit late and discovered to their dismay that there were no parking spots handy. So, he dropped off his passengers and set out to find a parking spot. After the funeral, he went to retrieve the car and found that it had been clamped and would not be released until he paid a fine. The news report went on to tell how upset he was, how unfair he felt this was, that he was attending a funeral and should have been shown some compassion.
While the news report was fairly obviously slanted in favour of the person complaining, they did at least point out that the man had decided to park in a private for profit parking lot that had very large and very prominent signs telling people it was only for permit holders and that violators would be clamped and fined. Returning to find the car clamped and a fine being levied shouldn’t have been a surprise to the man in the story. But it obviously was–he felt that he should be shown special consideration because he was attending a funeral.
The story set off a chain of thought in my mind. We live in a culture where we are becoming more and more convinced that we are all an exception to the rule and should all be given special consideration. There are rules and regulations and standards–but they simply shouldn’t apply to me. And in a lot of cases, I am not concerned about this trend–some rules, regulations and standards are wrong and unjust and unfair and need to be challenged and changed.
I was born left-handed and had I been born just a few years earlier, I might have been forced to become right-handed, no matter that the change would likely have caused some physical and even psychological problems. When the rules and regulations and standards are obviously affecting the freedom and equality of individuals and groups, they need to change.
But that is a different issue from the attitude of entitlement that suggests that everyone is an exception to everything. It may sound like I am just an old-fashioned ranting Baptist preacher but that route is exactly the route that the first man and woman followed and is at the root of all human sin–we think we are important enough to be an exception to every rule and regulation and standard. In Genesis 2.16-17, God made one rule for humanity–they were not to eat from a certain tree. According to the story, at that point humanity consisted of one man and one woman, who ultimately decided that they were an exception to the rule,
I break rules a lot–in my writing, I have been known to deliberatively split infinitives; in my driving, I occasionally drive too fast; in my work, I often challenge and go against the accepted approach to church activity. Sometimes, I do this because it makes sense. Sometimes, I do this because it needs to be done. Sometimes, I do it because I don’t know the rule. But I decided a long time ago that when I break the rules, I need to be willing to accept the consequences. As an old prison adage puts it, “If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.”
So, if and when I get caught for speeding, I won’t argue–I deserve the ticket because I chose to do something wrong. And if I am caught speeding while on my way to a funeral, well, that is my problem. Trying to make myself an exception to everything is really only the same thing Adam and Eve did and we all know that that didn’t work out well for anyone.
May the peace of God be with you.