Rules and Variance

“Societies need rules that make no sense for individuals. For example, it makes no difference whether a single car drives on the left or on the right. But it makes all the difference when there are many cars!” -Marvin Minsky

Society is structured around rules developed to keep the peace, create stability, and on commonly accepted facts. Within society are the rules for how to drive and how to use currency; less interactive rules might include things like the organization of the solar system or the number of notes in a musical scale.

Sometimes, though, we are thrown sideways.

It turns out many Middle Eastern musicians recognize something called microtones, the notes in between what we find in music written for western societies, which instruments like pianos have no way to create. When music with microtones is played, it conveys a completely different sound, esentially altering what is considered ‘possible’ within many people’s known musical lexicon.

Here’s why it’s relevant: when one set of people not only understand but use one rule book, and another set of people are using a completely different set of ‘truths’, communication is going to falter. When no one is wrong, how are problems solved?

This doesn’t simply happen cross cultures, this happens in relationships, as well. So many times in couples counseling, both parties are sure the other has failed, that their partner or spouse is wrong while they are right, and therefore justified in feeling hurt/wronged/outraged/betrayed…

The dynamic changes when a couple faces that perhaps, while they might not like the actions or beliefs of their partner, they start to understand that a wrong wasn’t perpetrated. Arguments that surface again and again for many couples are ones based on two different rule books, and both are valid.

Instead of focusing on the ways in which one partner is different from you, consider the rules, values, beliefs, principles and philosophies you share. They are worth discovering, and are important to review occasionally.

You might learn something that throws you sideways.

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