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Things we might have known…

October 14th, 2016 by Stephen Bauman

How are you feeling these days? Overwhelmed by the “yuck factor” in our presidential race? Given the level of childishness and disingenuousness within our political culture, I was reminded of a New York Times best-seller from 1986 by Robert Fulghum: All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, a subversive take on the foundations of human maturity.

Yes, it was somewhat clichéd and sentimental, but clever, witty and substantially true at the same time. After all, clichés are considered clichés precisely because they hold at least a grain of universally acknowledged truth. Consider this opening salvo that gave the book its name:

These are the things I learned (in Kindergarten):

  1. Share everything.
  2. Play fair.
  3. Don’t hit people.
  4. Put things back where you found them.
  6. Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
  7. Say you’re SORRY when you HURT somebody.
  8. Wash your hands before you eat.
  9. Flush.
  10. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
  11. Live a balanced life – learn some and drink some and draw some and paint some and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
  12. Take a nap every afternoon.
  13. When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.
  14. Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
  15. Goldfish and hamster and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup – they all die. So do we.
  16. And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned – the biggest word of all – LOOK.

We’re not using Styrofoam as often as we used to, and I’m guessing the “Dick-and-Jane” books that taught a couple of generations how to read are no longer serving the same purpose for excellent pedagogical reasons, but the wisdom is not lost in translation. The essential building blocks of human flourishing are found right there at our beginning. The wonder is how difficult it seems to hang on to the lessons…

Stephen Bauman

Rev. Dr. Stephen P. Bauman is the Senior Minister at Christ Church.