Laws and their inflicted rules used to be a candid reflection of our individual values at one point in time. They represented our virtues and morals. They distinguished right from wrong.
Over the decades, our values have evolved (as one would expect from a species whose entire existence is based on evolution). Yet we failed to apply the most crucial rule that evolution has taught us to the judicial system: you adapt or you die. As a result, it is now plagued with laws that represent archaic monuments which painfully remind us of how narrow-minded and naive we once were.
It took 80 years and many lives to grant US African Americans the right to vote and almost 40 more years for women to gain the same right. For an entire century, we refused to recognize that everyone’s created equal.
Breaking rules is our way of forcing the judicial system to adapt or die. It is a necessary system health check which ensures that our individual values are still aligned with the rules that are supposed to govern us. Any individual can challenge the status quo, but it takes a collective to tear down archaic monuments. There needs to be a network effect. The more other people subscribe to your way of thinking, the more attention will be paid to the archaic nature of the law in question.
Unfortunately, we’ve been conditioned to believe that breaking the rules is wrong. We have witnessed what happens when authoritative figures flex their muscles, sending nonconformists to jail and placing activist groups on terrorist-watch lists. Most of us are a little scared to stand up for our values these days, aren’t we?
It’s time we take off our Elizabethan collars. They are narrowing our focus to only register fearful events that deter us from challenging the status quo. We’re starting to suffer from tunnel vision. If we were able to turn our heads, we’d be able to see that there is a global system that has been embracing troublemakers and rule breakers: the internet.
On the internet, breaking the rules is called “disruption” and it is considered a highly sought after practice that cultivates innovation. It is the birth place of an underlying notion which suggests that there is always a way to do things better – it’s really just a matter of time until someone finds it. Here, the status quo has an incredibly short shelf life.
You adapt or you die. (R.I.P Blackberry)
Airbnb is one of those internet companies that has disrupted the accommodation market by allowing people to share their home with complete strangers in exchange for money. The hotel industry is of course troubled about this because they can’t compete with the authentic, live-like-a-local experience that Airbnb provides their customers. Frankly speaking, a hotel’s unique offer doesn’t extend much further than free morning newspapers, cheap coffee, and cleaning services. Besides that, the only one who profits from this experience are the hotels. Airbnb gives the majority of the profit to their customers, who are allowing others to enjoy their four walls. You see everyone sort of wins with Airbnb while the hotel industry only allows for one winner.
Airbnb didn’t just do things how they have always been done. They do things how they should be done.
Breaking rules, as we have learned, comes at a price though. In Airbnb’s case, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman came knocking to issue a subpoena demanding the submission of Airbnb’s confidential user data of 225,000 New Yorkers. Apparently, the state is “concerned about hotel occupancy taxes and possible evictions by greedy building owners.”
Here we have a group of individuals that rethought the accommodation industry and came up with an arguably better solution, just to find it squashed down by our lawmakers.
Sure, we can take a passive stand against it and say, “Leave it up to the lawmakers to get things right.” Or, we can prompt a system health check and asses whether or not Airbnb services align with our individual and collective values.
Is Airbnb providing people with an opportunity to earn some extra cash on the side? Yes. (And in a world where everything gets more expensive but no salaries are increased, this is a welcoming break.)
Do people enjoy vacationing in someone else’s unique home? Yes. (Have you seen how many users they have?)
Is the Airbnb service hurting anyone physically or psychologically? No. (On the contrary, users benefit from the service.)
Well then, if that’s the case, let’s make sure that the service sticks around. We are the lawmakers. The person at the top is a representation of us. And employees working for the judicial system chose law as their profession. That doesn’t mean that their voice is louder than yours. They are lawmakers by education or occupational lawmakers, and they too have an obligation to represent our values and best interest.
I repeat, we are the lawmakers.
When the laws and their inflicted rules no longer serve us as a collective, we must break them and rethink them. “We” is made up of two or more individuals, and if we as individuals seize to stand up for our values, there will be no collective – there will be no change. No occupational lawmaker will take notice.
I think we can all agree that Airbnb should not hand over any confidential user data, potentially putting thousands of New Yorkers on the hook for breaking an elusive rule that no longer serves us. If we don’t use our collective law making power to create the kind of society that fosters innovative disruption, then we are inviting others to take that power from us. If you don’t use it, you lose it.
I want Airbnb to stand as an example of an outdated law that we replaced – an archaic monument we tore down together.
Help me by signing this petition.
About the author:
Tina Schomburg is known to butcher English idioms from time to time. Granted, many of them wouldn’t make a lot of sense to someone who was born and raised in Germany. Aside from idioms, Tina grew to love the English language early on while listening to North American pop songs and ballads. In the pre-Google era, she would pull out a thick dictionary, flip through the pages in order to find and translate every single word so she could understand their context. This anecdote serves as a great illustration of Tina’s persistence and curiosity for the unknown. Nowadays, you can find Tina swooning over stunning industrial and web design or going down a rabbit hole in effort to learn and understand an intriguing subject. As of late, Tina has become a self-educated expert on health and the state of well being after being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at the age of twenty-two. Once Tina has successfully recovered from cancer, she plans on empowering others to become fearless agents of change.
Visit Tina’s website and blog here > Peaceful Combat