Monday, May 16, 2011

It Can't Be That Simple, Robert Fulghum...

Share everything.
Play fair.
Don't hit people.
Put things back where you found them.
Clean up your own mess.
Don't take things that aren't yours.
Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody.
Wash your hands before you eat.
Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
Live a balanced life - learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and
dance and play and work every day some.
Take a nap every afternoon.
When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick
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.
Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup -
they all die. So do we.
And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned - the
biggest word of all - LOOK.

It can't be that simple, Robert Fulghum. Or can it? Robert created a list of things he, and we, needed to get through life; things that he just happened to have learned in kindergarten...or Sunday school. Now, I don't know Robert, nor do I know if he even went to kindergarten (I did not. That may explain some things.) I haven't even read his book...yet, but I'm assuming that list is actually found within its pages.

Still...I have learned that, yes, Robert Fulghum, it really CAN BE that easy. Unfortunately, it is often human nature to take the unbelievably simple idea, and turn it into something much more muddled and complicated in practice.

I mean, seriously? All we have to do to make this spinning ball we call home a better place is to follow this little list? Come on, man! Don't be ridiculous. Well, ok, maybe we could follow some of them and make it a little better, but do we really need to follow all of your advice, Robert Fulghum?

How about this...let's tweak the list a little, and see if we can't find some common ground between the reality we live in and your crayon scattered, cookie crumb littered, nap taking Eden that you have left us all slobbering over. How about that? So, with that in mind, and in a spirit of reality dusted with a whisper of cynicism, and tossing in a splash of smart aleck just for giggles,(shaken, not stirred) here is my take on the list of things we need to get through life; things that we should have learned in kindergarten.

Share everything... No. Not going to do it, wouldn't be prudent, at this juncture. Why? Because if I give away some of what I have then I won't have as much. Duh. How about instead, if I share the stuff I don't want anymore? You know, like, umm, used underwear, half empty lotion bottles, and leftover food? Oh, wait...can I get a receipt for that charitable donation of used underwear, half empty lotion bottles, and any other stuff I don't want anymore?

Play fair... No. How in the world am I supposed to climb the ladder if I want the same for everyone else that I want for myself? That wouldn't be fair to me. What if I play fair to those folks who can help me get what I want? Would that work?

Don't hit people. Ok, that one I can do. Not a biggie.

Put things back where you found them... Why? I mean, think about it. If I put things back where I found them, then there would be no job market for folks who spend their days going around cleaning up after folks like me. I'm doing them a favor really. So what if we do this; how about if I put a few things back where I got them instead?

Clean up your own mess...ok, obviously you didn't notice the previous retort.

Don't take things that aren't mean like slave labor, natural resources, native lands, or a pretty young lass's innocence? Come on, man. Now you're talking crazy. Where is your sense of progress? That's the way the world works. Ok, so how about this...what if I downsize from a Hummer to a smaller SUV. I mean, my Explorer gets 19.7 mpg, isn't that good enough? (I don't really have a Hummer, but if I did I'd downsize to a smaller SUV like, oh, my Explorer.)

Say you're sorry when you hurt someone. Oh, for crying out loud. You mean, actually take responsibility for the way I have treated another human being? Get out! We don't want to do that. Instead, we say what we want and hide behind anonymity. That way no one knows it was really me that said those awful, hurtful words. (That's actually one thing I like about Facebook. Your mug is right there beside everything you say.)

Wash your hands before you eat...Ok, the germ-o-phobe in me totally agrees with that one.

Flush...Ok, my OCD greatly appreciates that one as well.

Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you're talking. So are other things, but I'm not going there. One of these days we can talk about the other.

Live a balanced life: learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play every day some. Well isn't that special? Actually, that sounds like fun. I'm keeping that one.

Take a nap every afternoon. Finally! Yes!

...and then the others, well, I'm out of cynical comments so I'll just skip them.

Ok, actually I think Robert is dead on right. I think he has absolutely nailed what it takes to create a better world for everyone, the only addition I might make is a little prayer. Unfortunately, we're not going to share, or play fair, or apologize when we've hurt someone. Most of us won't take responsibility for the hurtful things we say, or for the role we play in depleting the earth's natural resources (and, alas, I'm guilty too), or for keeping the marginalized on the margins, etc, etc, etc.

So, Robert Fulghum...keep up the good work. Keep telling us about how simple this really can be. Now, I'm not some misplaced hippie, but dog gone it, this stuff ain't rocket science (My apologies to my rocket scientist friends. What? I have friends who actually are rocket scientists.). It really is that simple. Paul reminds us of that in his letter to the Thessalonians (You didn't honestly think I was going to write a whole blog without mentioning scripture?). Isn't it funny that some of the most life changing and world changing advice we've ever gotten came to us before we even hit 1st grade?

Kindergarten, Sunday school, around the dinner table. They all work, if we listen. So, take some time today, ponder Robert Fulghum's list, listen to your mum, and read 1 Thessalonians chapter 5. Seriously. Do it.


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