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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Power on the Playground

Some of you remember Robert Fulghum’s essay “Everything I needed to know I learned in kindergarten.”  He called it his credo, and it included things like “Play fair”, and “Clean up your own mess” (BP take note.)  It went viral before there was much of a viral.

I thought of Fulghum’s piece the other day as I went through my son’s preschool notebook.  In it I came across a single sheet of paper that said this:

You are Powerful When You….

*Help someone
*Do something good
*Try something that is hard to do
*Follow rules
*Share a turn
*Make new friends
*Give your brother or sister something
*Make something for someone
*Help somebody find something
*Keep yourself healthy

There is nothing in this definition about money, physical strength or prestige.  Nor does it describe many of the people our society considers powerful. In this definition we are most powerful when we are giving something away, serving, or deepening a relationship.  Most of the world’s great spiritual traditions would agree.

It is one thing to imagine the way this definition of power gets lived out on a playground.  But like Fulgum’s list, it really gets interesting (and challenging) when I apply it to my adult life.  More interesting (and challenging) still when I try to balance the first and last one on the list.

This week, what might it mean to try something hard, or listen?  How might you help somebody find something or keep yourself healthy?  Will these acts make you powerful?

See you on the playground, where most good learning happens.

Doug Wysockey-Johnson
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