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Viewpoint: A bit of advice for President Trump



Thursday, August 03, 2017

During the 2+ years since Donald Trump announced his presidential candidacy, I continue to be amazed by his inability to understand and appreciate exactly how powerful both his words and actions are- especially now that he is the President of the United States. Therefore, I would like to share a bit of advice which might be helpful as his presidency, and our country, move forward if indeed our common goal is to unify rather than divide.

The unlikely source of this advice, Robert Fulghum’s essay entitled, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten”, might be perceived as a bit simplistic, but it nonetheless delivers a powerful message each and every one of us might want to revisit given the contentious political climate within which we live.

“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, but there in the sand pile at school. These are the things I learned:

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.

Flush.

Live a balanced life- learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.

When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, and stick together.

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.

And then remember the Dick and Jane books and the first word you learned- the biggest word of all- LOOK.”

Although each of these prescriptions for living may seem trite and trivial in our ever changing and fast paced world, there are certainly some important life lessons to be learned by each of us.

First and foremost, “share everything.” We have limited resources so let’s figure out the best way to distribute them fairly and equitably.

“Play fair.” We all know that absolute power corrupts absolutely- and no one person in our constitutional democracy is above the law, nor can he or she alone fix it. So let us use our power, the art of compromise and making a deal for the common good as opposed to what is solely self-serving and/or to be vindictive.

“Don’t hit people.” Violence doesn’t change people, it merely creates fear and a cycle of violence that hurts all of us. So please think before you speak at rallies or Boy Scout Jamborees, post videos or tweet. Contrary to popular rhetoric from the podium, being politically incorrect is many times just mean spirited.

“Put things back where you found them.” Literal translation might be misconstrued as an unwillingness to change or think outside the box- but environmentally speaking it can also mean to leave no trace and do no harm.

“Clean up your own mess.” If a company or an individual or a governmental agency causes harm, then own it. Only by owning our mistakes, can we begin to work on solutions to correct them.

“Don’t take things that aren’t yours.” This includes land by eminent domain unless it is truly the only answer for the public good so that all may enjoy the same freedoms of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness granted within the Bill of Rights to the Constitution.

“Say you’re sorry when you hurt someone.” And this includes when bullying others with your words- because as we all know, words matter, they do hurt, and we can’t take them back any more than we can a punch. “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me?” Not true- and because we are adults, count to ten as our parents told us, and let’s think before we speak or tweet.

“Flush.” Let us not misconstrue “flush” with throwing out the baby with the bath water. Literally speaking, we all know that “flushing” gets rid of waste we don’t need. So let’s look into that portion of the equation as we address and explore options to better utilize both our finite natural and financial resources for what is best for “we the people” and not one’s political party or self.

“Live a balanced life- learn and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.” Public funding of the arts and humanities is such a small part of our federal budget, but such a huge part of our lives and provides the balance we need to make and keep us human.

“When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.” Watching out for traffic, generally consists of looking both ways. Looking both ways may be further extrapolated to listening to other points of view with an open mind so you don’t get squished by living your life in a bubble. Remember when the world was full of new and exciting things to learn and explore and enjoy? Why not give it a shot- but with an adult twist so we keep what is good and build from there?

Let us not forget to “Wonder”! If we forget to wonder, then we are destined to remain stagnant and never grow to our full potential- not only as a nation, but as a civilization of truly humane and civilized human beings. If we cease to wonder we stop learning- and had we stopped learning we would never have discovered how horrid those white Styrofoam cups are for our environment along with our souls. And if we forget to wonder, then as leaders, role models, educators, parents, and grandparents, we fail our children, grandchildren, and all future generations miserably because we have forced them into a white Styrofoam cup within which they might never fit and/or be able to grow as individuals- anywhere that is, except in those white Styrofoam cups where, as we all know, those tiny seedlings perish if not transplanted.

“Look.” Could be we need to look backwards and forwards as well as side to side- and then we might ask ourselves how some programs and policies are working currently, which parts might need some tweaking, and which parts can’t be tweaked and may ultimately need to be discarded. But before trashing an insurance program which provides aid to the most vulnerable among us, look at it alongside our moral code and values as a civilization, and not simply or solely based on one’s party, a campaign promise to one’s base, or for a political win.

“Everything you need to know is in there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation. Ecology and politics and sane living. Take any of those terms 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 clear and firm. And just think what a better world it would be if all governments had as a basic policy to always put things back where they found them and to clean up their own mess.”

— An excerpt by Robert Fulghum from, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten”

Deb McGrath lives in Francestown.