All I Need to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten
American writer and philosopher Robert Fulghum wrote a lovely book with the title "All I really need to know, I learned in kindergarten." He says:
"All I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. ... These are the things I learned:
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 bikkies 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 together.
"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.
"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 bikkies and milk about three o'clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap. Or if all governments and businesses 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."
Some Things I've Learned
Love comes first. Above and beyond all things. When in doubt do the loving thing. I have summarised two important aspects of this in two sentences:
It is more important to be loving, than to be important.
It is more right to be loving, than to be right.
Some Other Stuff
Where you're going is more important than where you are.
People are different and that's OK.
If you want people to be trustworthy, you need to trust them first.
Communicate. If people don't know, they'll assume the worst.
Have fun. Life's short enough without being miserable.
Images and symbols are more powerful than words.
Who you are speaks louder than what you say.
How you do something is more important than what gets done.
The boss's job always looks smaller from below.
Myers-Briggs is only useful if it helps you become a whole person. It's not a way to hide behind your strengths.
An organisation with consistent values can liberate its employees to be creative, innovative and productive.
World Vision needs to be in the transforming business, not just the transferring business.
If you say "World Vision Australia is not a fundraising organisation," you will be misunderstood.
If you say you want World Vision Australia to become "Australia's favourite charity," you will be misunderstood.
Those who do not study history will be forced to repeat it.
When everything is said and done, usually more is said than done.
"It must be remembered that there is nothing more difficult than to plan, more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to manage, than the creation of a new system. For the initiator has the enmity of all who will profit by preservation of the old institutions and merely lukewarm defenders in those who would gain by the new one."-Machiavelli, The Prince
"Go into the crowd. Live with them. Study Together. Share in their ups and downs. Be in the same boat and help them build up themselves according to their understanding. Guide them in truth, so that they will practise what they have learned and not just become empty vessels. In doing so you will become their true friend. Do not upset laws and orders, but discern what is the priority in life, then they will never regret. Be kind to all and gently lead the young until they accomplish their tasks and enjoy their fruition. So the people will say, 'We achieved the goal ourselves!'"-Chinese poem, on my office wall.
Don't trust the media to tell the truth. It is commonly believed, by many reporters themselves even, that if you faithfully report what people say, then you are telling the truth.
Unfortunately, modern day opinion-makers have worked out that you can lie without challenge.
So we have right wing, racist commentators telling us that Pauline Hanson's views have "struck a chord with most Australians."
Said often enough, and naively reported often enough, it starts to have the ring of truth.
But is it true? Survey after survey of the Australian public shows widespread support for a multicultural and tolerant society.
I heard another example of this myth-making manipulation of the media in Perth last week.
There the Education Minister told everyone that WA students couldn't read and write properly because "they spend too much time on excursions and sport."
He announced a review of school excursions, promising to stamp them out in favour of more of the 3Rs.
This was faithfully reported. As if true.
But research in WA itself shows that there is a direct correlation between quality of education and class size. Teachers cost money which the government doesn't have, or won't pay. Fewer teachers has meant bigger and bigger classes. The quality of education has gone down.
Without a single extra excursion.
What's more, international research, published recently in Harvard Business Review shows that students who do non-maths subjects, especially arts and music (and excursions), actually do better in their science and maths grades, than the ones who just do science and maths.
And, by the way, when next time the media report that Australians are not in favour of foreign aid, remember it is a lie. The latest research before the last election confirmed what we have seen for decades. Namely that the majority of Australians are in favour of foreign aid and would like the government to increase it.
Interestingly, this level of support is common in almost every developed country, regardless of trends in government foreign aid spending.
Next time a pollie says they are responding to public opinion by slashing aid you will know they are lying. And hoping you'll believe them.
This now is the art of public political debate. No longer the Art of the Possible, it has become the Art of the Believable Lie.
And as for Pauline...
Whether you think she's right or wrong one thing is for sure. Her way doesn't work.
History proves this.
Distrust, isolation and separation do not work. One group is only temporarily on top. The oppressed live in their frustration and eventually it makes them strong. You cannot degrade the human spirit forever. Eventually the oppressed get power, oppress their oppressors and the cycle repeats.
Tolerance, understanding and genuine partnership are the only ways for different cultures to live peacefully together.
The other way has been tried. It didn't work in the middle ages. It didn't work in the communist world. It didn't work in South Africa. It didn't work in Rwanda. It isn't working in Ireland, Bosnia, Israel...
We have a vision for a better world.