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May 1, 2009

What I have learned in kindergarten

Robert Fulghum wrote a book All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten in 1989. It was one of the very first books I read in English some 15 years ago, and liked it very much. It taught me appreciate the uniquely Anglo-Saxon gift for simplifying complex ideas; something most European philosophers usually lack (the Germans, the Russians, and the French in particular). Here is his original list of things you really need to know. What I learned last week reminded me of this book, because it was so basic, something everyone already knows, and we just need reminders once in a while. It also occurred to me that I am fascinated with technocratic solutions to complex logistical problems. However, even more complicated human problems usually need simple, kindergarten solutions. And they work as best as it is possible. So, here is my list, which does not apply to any particular case or situation. This is simply a list of things for me to remember:

  1. If you are really mad at someone, ask, why are you so mad? If the person you're mad at is not evil, there is no reason to be that angry. If the scope of your anger does not match the offense against you, you have a problem.
  2. When you screw up, apologize, and try to be sincere. An apology goes a long way. Remember, South Africa managed to escape a horrendous civil war through the some simple acts of apology.
  3. When someone is wrong, and has offended you, do not assume you are automatically right. As Anton Chekhov said, "Чужими грехами свят не будешь"(Someone else's sins won't make you a saint). Victimhood in does not make one a better human being; the opposite is often true. So, apologize back, and try to be sincere.
  4. A conflict between two people hurts everyone else in the group; it is not a private or personal mater. We have a stake at having a decent, cohesive community, and will not tolerate on-going conflicts regardless of its cause.
  5. Do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy? You cannot be both.
  6. Allow others to save face. There is no benefit in cornering someone who has done wrong to you.
  7. What you are trying to say is not important. How other people perceive your message is important. If you don't know the latter, make an effort to find out.
  8. What do you want?,- ask yourself often. You will find out very soon, that what you feel like doing is not at all what you need to be doing to achieve what you want.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous11:54 AM


    I disagree with number 5. I am both. Always :)