In 1988, a local Unitarian Universalist minister published a book called All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. It was a back to basics primer for Baby Boomers. It snuck onto the New York Times bestseller list and stayed there for 2 years. Twenty-five years and 7,000,000 copies later the author, Robert Fulghum, revised his little primer and added a few new essays for the anniversary re-release. Today, his advice is just as cogent as it was when first published – maybe more so in the Age of Trump.
Here’s Fulghum’s Kindergarten code, in red, updated for the Age of Trump, in black:
“All I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate-school mountain (We don’t know about Donald, since he ordered his schools to hide his grades),but there in the sand pile at Sunday School. These are the things I learned: (Pay attention Donald. Turn off Fox and Friends. This is not Executive Time).
- Share everything.Your tax returns and all the tainted money your father gave you. Be grateful.
- Play fair. Stop lying, cheating at golf, and stealing from the American people.
- Don’t hit people.Or put them in cages.
- Put things back where you found them. Russian money. Golf divots. Your dick.
- Clean up your own mess. OMG, this is the big one. If you’ll get out of the way, the Democrats will do it for us.
- Don’t take things that aren’t yours. The Affordable Care Act.
- Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody. Mexicans, disabled reporters, Christine Blasey Ford, and the other 372,200,000 of us.
- Wash your hands before you eat. Especially after you put everything back where you found it.
- Flush. Fox News.
- Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you. KFC, Big Mac’s, and porn stars are not.
- Live a balanced life—learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some. Hard to balance when you’re dancing with Lucifer.
- Take a nap every afternoon. Alone. No tweeting.
- When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together. If Melania lets you.
- 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. The great wonder is how Trump ever got to the White House and how he manages to stay there.
- Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup—they all die. So do we. And, so will Trump, in spite of Dr. Ronnie Jackson’s bogus misrepresentations.
- And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned—the biggest word of all—LOOK. Not TAKE.
- Everything you need to know is in there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation. Ecology and politics and equality and sane living. Fulghum’s Golden Rule is not a reference to the tacky decoration in Trump’s New York apartment, but I couldn’t resist this picture.
Take any one of those items and extrapolate it into sophisticated adult terms and apply it to your family life or your work or your government or your world and it holds true and clear and firm. Think what a better world it would be if we all—the whole world—had cookies and milk about three o’clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap. Or if all governments had as a basic policy to always put things back where they found them and to clean up their own mess.
And it is still true, no matter how old you are—when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.” **
Robert Fulghum is not as snarky as I am, but his good advice and literary success has given him the freedom to write and live as he wants. He currently splits his time between Moab, Utah and the island of Crete. In 2014 he returned to Seattle and performed a marriage ceremony for our friends, Steve and Karin Columba Price, in the Washington Park Arboretum. He was also a longtime friend of our friends Tom and Priscilla Wilson. Tom died in 2015 but whenever I hear Fulghum’s name I think of his friendship with Tom. Both were men of great good sense who practiced what they learned in Kindergarten. Thanks to both of them.
**Special thanks to Mr. Fulghum who let me share his copyright material.