I live in a large resort-like community in Calgary and our residents have recently been asked to review and comment on the Bylaws so the committee who is doing revisions has input.
The first thing that I did was print the Bylaws which cover over 50 pages. As I began to study the document, I started to realize that having a community set of Bylaws is very much like having a personal Bylaw in many ways:
- Bylaws are based on our values and beliefs. They tend to represent the goals and aspirations of those involved.
- Not everyone will agree with our Bylaws or our personal constitution. There are always individuals who have different perceptions and beliefs from ours.
- Society and small groups of leaders usually write or determine not only the By-laws for communities but also greatly influence our personal thoughts, feelings and behaviours. So people determine Bylaws and Bylaws affect people.
- By-laws are usually designed to provide safety, consistency and clarity for everyone.
- Just as we learn and change through trouble, Bylaws are often crafted and revised when there are problems that need to be addressed and resolved.
- Not everyone studies or understands the By-laws (or cares). Doesn’t this seem similar to people you have met who don’t really try to get to know you or your perspective?
- Enforcing the “rules” can be difficult. Sometimes it is not the words you say but the music you play. How you address offenders is important and can definitely influence the outcome.
- By-laws are not the final say on matters. There are always higher levels to whom we are accountable personally and as communities.
- Times change and often ways of doing things in the past don’t work in the present. (It is interesting that many residents have asked for copies of our by-laws to review and have been referred to a website for an electronic version for example).
- If you aren’t willing or able to speak up – then you need to be quiet! Gossip and other forms of passive aggression just stir up toxicity in the environment.
- Make sure that you understand not only your position on issues but also have a well-thought out argument with research to back it before you challenge the by-laws.
- Consider how you will influence others. Some do this with a quiet but consistent example to be copied. Others use diplomacy to educate others. Many choose to protest with signs and media coverage. Change usually occurs after different efforts are made.
- Consider the consequences of your actions. If you break laws deliberately, you will be subject to various forms of punishment. Not everyone with a good idea is heard or honoured.
- Think about your options. You can accept things the way they are in misery, present creative and wise ways to implement change or relocate. On a personal level, you need to consider your health and whether your personal bylaws are helping or hurting you.
We live in a very interesting world where each of us has opportunity through technology to learn about what is happening all over the world as it happens. What is really important, however, is not just to inhale the information but to process it. You need to think about what you are learning and hearing. Then decide what you will do with that information and whether/how it will be part of your own personal bylaws
This takes wisdom!