Yesterday I came across a thought provoking story by Antony de Mello:

One Sunday morning, a father asked his daughter to mow the lawn. In return he promised her some pocket money. The prospect of the reward, with which she could buy her favorite candy, made the 10-year-old enthusiastic. She promptly started working from the far end of the lawn. Looking out through the window, the father felt satisfied, almost proud, of his cajoling skills.

As the shadows got longer, he went out to inspect the finished lawn. But to his dismay, he found a patch of uncut blades right in the middle of the otherwise perfectly mowed lawn. He couldn’t persuade the girl to cut the patch and finish the job. Even his threat to withhold the promised prize failed to move her.

This made the father curious. Upon inspecting the patch, he felt overwhelmed with emotion: a toad had made the patch its home. The girl didn’t want to destroy it and left the grass uncut.

de Mello concludes the story with a beautiful sentence:

“Where there is love, there is disorder. Perfect order will make the world a graveyard.”

A world of rules

There are rules—everywhere. As children, we learned it the hard way. The world, which was our playground, suddenly became a correction center with don’t, shouldn’t, and ‘or else’ signs everywhere. Parents, teachers, universities, government, religion, and other institutions joined hands to pave a narrow path for us to walk. 

Admittedly, these rules are necessary for living as a society.

As we grew up and filled the vacant shoes of our mentors, we created our own rules and codes of conduct for those around us. We, who in the face of ruthless laws moaned, groaned, and complained, made our laws canonical. With our unrelenting ‘my way or the highway’ attitude, we made life difficult for everyone.

Do we have to be as bad as the figures we once feared and abhorred? Surely we can’t do without many rules. But can’t we make them more humane?

Restructuring the rules

We often forget that people are unique. We cannot forge ‘One Rule to rule them all’ even from the fires of Mount Doom.

The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.


Mark 2:23–28

Jesus advocates keeping love at the center of every rule. In all our relationships, we can, and should, instill love at the center and make the laws more humane. An inhumane approach makes the world robotic.

After all, a one-size-fits-all T-shirt does not fit anyone.

A sweet memory

I speak from my experience when I advocate against perfect order. During school days, one of my classmates always came late to class and was caught many times dozing off. Even after repeated detentions, he continued with the habit.

However, one of my teachers went the extra mile. She found out that my classmate was a newspaper boy. He used to wake at 4, work till 9, and attend school afterward. This explained his late coming and dozing off in class.

My teacher convinced the school authorities to take a lenient approach toward my friend, who was on the verge of expulsion. The flexible stand of the institution magically improved his overall mood, and he started doing better in school.

Last week, I ran into him after more than 17 years, and felt happy to know that he is now a successful engineer working for a big firm.

I believe my teacher’s insight and compassionate approach saved him from becoming a failure and social outcast.

From dictatorship to love

It is sad to see laws and rules made to shield people being used to harm them. Around the world, we see democratic governments using laws inhumanely to consolidate their power and terrorize their political opponents.

However, the reigns of dictators and colonialists have not lasted long. They were all swept away in the tide of revolution. Similarly, we also would be swept under the rug of time if our relationships are not built on love.

Let us strive not for order but compassion. Let us leave uncut patches on our lawn so others can survive and thrive.

12 thoughts on “One size fits all!?”

  1. Beautifully said. <3
    Why can't we, as individuals, do the RIGHT Thing, not because it's a law but because it's the Right Thing to do?

    1. Sure Yagnesh. I will try to include more such stories. Thank you for your kind words.

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