“I am not a man of rules, but a man of spirit and discipline,” says Father Augustine, Principal of St. Xavier College. We had a small chit-chat with him regarding rules and how they groom students for this month’s Head of School.

But you are the Father Principal; shouldn’t rules describe you?
I connect with rules in life as a discipline that helps me cultivate the everyday knowledge I perceive and can do better with. Rules shouldn’t be taken literally; we should read in between the lines and should understand the reason behind its necessity. Rules are a platform to keep everything in order. Without rules, disorder would turn into a chaotic situation. Think of it as the rush of traffic without the traffic police to supervise things.

What does the word ‘rule’ trigger in your mind?
Rules are directions to follow the right path. It’s a foundation to life. It creates a base to build an empire on, which we all are looking forward to do, brick by brick. Rules structure our character – the character on which our careers can be built upon.

Sometime in life we have to take risks. Does that mean we can break rules sometimes?
My life doesn’t always go the right way; to some extent it is good to believe we have every right to lead our life in our own terms. But the moment ‘I can do what so ever with my life, why do you bother’ strikes our mind we are already on the wrong track. Selfish needs and deeds will never do us good. So, my take on taking risks in life comes with the consideration of what is important for me and the choices of choosing between what’s right and wrong. But breaking rules, I don’t think so – because there is always a way out and there is always a reason behind the existence of a rule.

As a student, what were you like? Didn’t you feel suffocated with the rules that had to be put up with?
Never! I was a part of the system and so I accepted all the rules as a part of my life. I abided by them with spirit. So, it didn’t suffocate me; I respected them. Rules are suffocating only when we cannot understand as to why it’s rules and also when rules are misplaced from their purpose.

What do you think of the next generation? Do you think our curiosity comes in our way of regulating rules in our lives?

The next generation’s psychology is always on the fast track; soothing things don’t catch their eyes. They need to slow down a little to grow more wisely. They should stop, reflect and then respond otherwise they will end up being destructive for themselves. Curiosity is a required asset to understand better, so, if they question it’s for good.

What role should adults play in making us understand the importance of rules and regulation?
In my case, I’d try to make them understand as fear cannot threaten people to abide by rules for long. Adults shouldn’t enforce rules; they should rather inspire students to follow the guideline for their own benefits. If everyone takes rules for something to put up with, it will surely be intolerable but if everyone learns to accept it for its purpose, we can see its beauty in making life worthwhile. We just need to hold on to it and in time we will realize the wonder it has done to us.