I mentioned the author Robert Fulghum in a post the other day, and would be remiss if I didn’t include his most famous quote as part of this series.
All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten was first published in 1986 to great commercial success, but not nearly as much critical praise. Apparently some critics called it “trite” and “saccharine,” which is just a fancy way of saying way, way over-the-top mushy.
Whatever the case, I enjoyed reading this book many moons ago, and I don’t think Fulghum ever pretended to make this a philosophical treatise like Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet. I think his point – at least in this book – is that as we grow older we tend to complicate the simple and forget that the most important lessons are the most basic ones we learn as children. Period. End of story.
On that note, I present Mr. Fulghum’s most famous quote from a literary career that has seen him sell 16 million copies of his books in 27 languages.
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 cookies 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.
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.
Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even
the little seed in the Styrofoam cup – they all die.
So do we.
And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books
and the first word you learned – the biggest
word of all – LOOK.
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 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
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 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.