Saturday, April 26, 2014

All I really need to know I learned in kindergarten?

A couple of days ago one of the last things my son said before he went to sleep was „So why are they doing this in Ukraine? Why can’t they stop fighting? I don’t want to live in a war.” He will be nine next week – a child, a few years out of kindergarten, and still learning the workings of the world. As he was dozing off after my pitiful and futile attempts at explanation in terms of “this is all much more complicated than we can understand” and “let’s hope they will come to their senses before it gets really nasty” – because, let’s face it: is there hope that these people under ammunition are going to come to their senses, and that holds for all sides? and isn’t it much more than nasty enough already? and how many sides involved in this conflict are there anyway? – I wondered how on earth parents can teach their children to stop fighting and squabbling, when they experience periods like this when grown-ups can't get their senses together, and with so much at stake. 
I also thought about that book which was popular many years ago, in the late eighties, “All I really need to know I learned in kindergarten”. Somehow it felt that there should have been a rule in there that could be applied to this nasty situation. But I had not kept my copy of the book, and if I should have copied out the rules, I certainly didn’t know where to look for them in my “archives”.
When I checked on the internet, however, it turns out that memory is a delusion. I thought I had remembered that there were 10 rules listed in the book, and that they covered the basic turns of life. Turns out that the first ten rules are the most poignant ones - if rather simplistic - and that my memory simply had deleted the ones after that, because even back then I thought they were rather American-childhood-centered and slightly off the topic. And it doesn’t really say something about squabbling and fighting, and how to end a useless and futile situation. So my musings about whether any of the guys involved ever went to a decent kindergarten don’t really hit the point, although a combination of several of the rules certainly should be helpful if applied.
Meanwhile Syria is all but forgotten, a catastrophical famine is on its way in Southern Sudan, the Arab countries still haven’t found their peace, and even India, reputed for Hinduist tolerance and equanimity is drifting towards an intolerant and nationalistic government, from what I heard on the news.
Somehow it was difficult to sit down at the sewing machine this week...

These are the 'rules', quoted from here:

“These are the things I learned (in Kindergarten):

1. Share everything.
2. Play fair.
3. Don't hit people.
4. Put thngs 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 everyday 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 Stryrofoam 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 workd you learned - the biggest word of all - LOOK.” 
Robert Fulghum, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten

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