In New York City there are a number of Clubs that have long had discriminatory practices that most of their members were (or claimed to be) unaware of.

For example, most (if not all) clubs were single-sex and many clubs quietly discriminated against non-white and/or Jewish people.

And then came the end of the 20th Century and things began to change – too fast for quite a few people.

One all-men’s club discovered that that they were falling behind in getting their fair share of new, young male members. The club learned that the women in the lives of those young men often objected to their joining a club that excluded women.

The old men geezers said ‘no way change’ on their watch, and a compromise was suggested: that one room alone be designated for 20 years for men only to give the old guys a haven, as they would eventually die off. That failed by opposition from both sides.

In the meanwhile, all this “private” stuff got into the press and things heated up to the point that many employers of such club members said they would no longer reimburse their employees for club expenditures unless those clubs accepted women.

That did it, as it nearly always does! Money must talk!

Now, 20-plus years after opening its doors to women, that club is vibrant and healthy.

How could that club’s membership have been so dense and stubborn for so long?

The answer is that practices and rules gain inertia. They become embedded and it becomes as unthinkable to change them as it would be to try to alter the laws of gravity.

Of course, there are many rules that inconvenience, but do not discriminate.

Today for example, virtually all clubs ban smart phones completely—to the point that members have to go out into the freezing cold to call an Uber. Try getting that changed! No way—even pneumonia is not an exception!  The clubs I belong to are tough.

Most clubs have some rules about appropriate attire. Slowly one sees fewer neckties. Shocking, I’m sure, to purists!

So far there are no known rules about socks? Some older members have difficulty getting socks on. More people now go sockless thanks to UGGs which have the socks built in. Don’t tell anybody.

Rules are part of what makes us different from other species.

Thank God for rules.

And even better: thank God for the wisdom and instinct to revisit and change rules as we all grow and our world changes.


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