Uh-oh…I’ve been sitting in my thinking chair on the back patio again. Two of my youngest grandchildren were visiting (no, those are not them in the picture). They were engaged in the activity known as Plays Well with Others. Neither one was doing well with the concept. Watching them interact, after just watching all the news from around the world, I got to thinking….
There are many things that we humans have to learn as we grow from child to adult. Some of these things are instinctive and have little or no learning curve at all. Other things take a lot longer and are a lot harder to grasp and fold into the batter that eventually pours out our personalities.
Robert Fulghum is one of my favorite authors. He wrote the book, ALL I NEED TO KNOW I LEARNED IN KINDERGARTEN. If you have never read it and want a fun-read compendium of some of the more meaningful elements of humankind, grab a copy. It’s not a very thick book, perhaps because it really doesn’t take much to learn how to be a good person. What’s the first thing Fulghum puts on his list of things learned in kindergarten? It’s “share everything.” Wow! What a fundamental concept…what an incredibly hard principle for us humans to embrace.
What is interesting, I’ve found, is that the younger we are, the easier it is for us to share. As we get older, the thought of sharing becomes less important and the thoughts of keeping and getting more for ourselves become more important. It’s really that simple. Think about it. Despite some early unwillingness as toddlers, by the time we reached elementary school it was not a problem sharing most anything: a bunch of cookies, a toy, crayons, whatever. We got even more generous as teenagers. Then we’d share clothes, money, cigarettes, homework—stuff like that. Then—bang—we grew into adults and sharing simply became more challenging once more. Now it was something that occurred between only the closest of friends or relatives…if it occurred at all.
In sum, my theory on sharing is simple: kids are more likely to share; adults not. I think it makes sense overall. As we get older we begin to realize that it takes effort to accumulate things we value. Hence, we are a bit more reluctant to want to share those things.
So, as I sat in my thinking chair observing my grandkids grappling with learning how to get along, coupled with my having just watched the evening news…here is how I see my theory unfolding as we become adults:
- We begin thinking, “I worked hard for that money; I just don’t want to share it with you who did nothing to earn it.”
- Or, to take it a step further: “This is our land because our ancestors were here first and worked the land for generations. You can’t simply come in here and stake your claim to it. We don’t want to share it.”
- Or how about, “I believe my way of doing things is a lot better than your way and I am not willing to be forced into having to share things your way.”
- And, finally, “If you don’t want to share, then I will kill you and take what I want.”
See how the concept of sharing evolves. Imagine, we unlearn everything they taught us in kindergarten.