Values and Rules: an unlikely love story

Aditi Mathur and Ratnesh Mathur

This is a love story. And like all love stories it is mushy, slushy, and touchy. And like all love stories, it only begins where it ends.

Values ran through the countryside in her long pleated skirt with innumerable prints on them, her plaited hair waving behind her, trying to catch up with her pace.

Values should have been happy. She was in demand. Everybody wanted her. Even if not for themselves, at least they wanted her for their children.

But she was not happy. She was sparingly understood, conveniently forgotten, and properly confused with rules. Like any other pretty one, she too sighed for her knight in shining armour.

couple Rules stoically sat in the right place. All buttoned up, creased at the right places, trimmed to the right order, he was a man of words. He spoke not what he wanted, but what he wanted others to do.

Rules should have been happy. He was in command. Everybody was supposed to follow him, fear him. Even if they did not follow for themselves, at least they wanted their children to follow.

But like Values, he too was not happy. He was scaringly used, conveniently forgotten, and properly confused with values. Like any other handsome one, he too sighed for his melting moment.

They met. Not how you would expect – under a starry sky, or among daisies swinging in a cool breeze, but at the periphery of a crowd which had gathered to argue over a conflict. One child had stolen another child’s toy as it was not being shared with him.

Rules was not focussing on the arguments, his vision being smitten by the radiance of Values.
Nor was Values focussing, overwhelmed by the attention she was getting.
Between them, there was only silence.

Finally, someone from the crowd beckoned Rules, “Our community prohibits anyone from stealing. We have a rule, don’t we?” Another pulled in Values, “But this child was refusing to share, our community expects the value of sharing”.

Rules, startled, blurted out, “Values are really important.”A beaming Values quickly chimed in, “And so are rules!” Rules was excited, “We should all encourage developing values.” Values was excited too, “Rules are the lighthouse of any society, we depend on them.”

The level of radiance on these two faces was going up. Rules added, looking straight into Values’ eyes, “If rules and values are woven together, we will all be happy”. “So true, So true,” rejoined Values.

“Silence”! The loud and clear voice of Mr. Doubt was heard far away. “You two seem to be only interested in each other. But, in most cases, including this one, Rules and Values contradict each other. If we push rules, values suffer and if we push values, rules are left behind.”

Values and Rules were not to be stymied so easily. First, Values spoke, “I think you have to give us a chance to be together, in sync.” Rules added, “Also, you have to see us not as two separate beings – but one, a pair, almost like the two hands of a clock.

Mr. Doubt was not to be convinced so easily, “In which case let me challenge you both to a question and answer session. Let us all meet tomorrow at the town hall, and there if you two cannot convince us all, then your separation will stay a reality forever. Rules jumped right in, all his heroics rising to the fore, “We accept your challenge. What are your questions?”

The authors run an open unschool called Aarohi and invite all readers to visit and see how open learning can be an amazing way to work with children. They also conduct training retreats and online training for teachers and parents. Visit

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